South African Journal of Education

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Inclusive education: a case of beliefs competing for implementation

A Meltz, C Herman, V Pillay


The study explored the understanding and implementation of inclusive education in an independent Jewish community school; a school with a community ethos of care and belonging, whose context is, by definition,  exclusionary on the grounds of a particular social category – religion. However, this exclusionary agenda positioned  the school as inclusive on the grounds of strong communal values. Nevertheless, the school struggled with difference and diversity despite its purportedly strong communal spirit and religious culture. Further, it is arguable that the  challenges encountered by the school may be indicative of the emergent economic context of South Africa where  aspiration is often thwarted by economic realities. This study relied on qualitative methods of data generation such  as insider interviews, personal accounts and document analysis. The participants were drawn from four stakeholder  groups, namely, teachers, parents, middle managers and top managers. Guided by Lewin’s theory of planned  change, the study identified four belief systems which influenced the way inclusive education was both understood  and practised in this school. The study argued for the recognition of the importance of different belief systems in the implementation of inclusion in South Africa.

Keywords: conditional inclusion, emergent economic contexts, inclusive education, Jewish community school, Kurt Lewin’s theory of planned change
AJOL African Journals Online