The challenges of realising inclusive education in South Africa
In South Africa, up to 70% of children of school-going age with disabilities are out of school. Of those who do attend, most are still in separate, “special” schools for learners with disabilities. This situation prevails despite the push for the educational inclusion of learners with disabilities over twelve years ago by the South African policy document, the Education White Paper 6. In this article, we take a primarily top-down theoretical approach to policy implementation and focus on two main factors that hinder the implementation of inclusive education. Firstly, we focus on what we regard as the most significant constraint, namely, the apparent lack
of clarity in the policy, i.e. ambiguity about the goals for inclusion and the means through which they can be achieved and, secondly, various issues around the poor implementation of the policy. We argue further that the primary means by which the divide between inclusive policy and practice will ultimately be closed is through the implementation and enforcement of education policy by the South African Department of Education.
Keywords: disability, education policy, inclusive education, special schools