ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION 

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CHAPTER 2: ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

“Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children from remote and nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic, or cultural minorities and children from disadvantaged or marginalised areas and groups” (UNESCO, 1994, p.6)

INTRODUCTION

Numerous educational teacher training programmes are offered worldwide, all based on various contexts (McIntyre, 2009; Lomofsky & Lazarus, 2001). The main purpose of these programmes is to equip teachers with knowledge and skills on teaching all learners, including those in need of additional support, so that these learners can participate and learn effectively during classroom activities (Grant & Gillette, 2006; Landsberg & Matthews, 2016). Gay (2010) maintains that for teachers to be able to teach all learners regardless their differences, they need to recognise, honour and incorporate the individual abilities of learners into their teaching methods and strategies. It is a source of concern that despite these teacher preparation programmes, most teachers still are unable to meet the various needs of their learners. This shortcoming of the teachers may be ascribed to their inability to differentiate the curriculum, which according to Drake and Sherin (2006) serves as one of the key aspects in teachers’ implementation of IE.
Curriculum differentiation is a teaching methodology that ensures that the teaching methodology, learning content and learning output matches the readiness level, ability and interest of the learner (Tomlinson, 2004; Lee et al. 2006; Drake & Sherin, 2006). In other words, it refers to the manner in which the teacher modifies the content, instructions and learning outputs to allow the learner to engage and respond to the school curriculum (Lee et al., 2006). Like many parts of the world, the South African educational system is characterised by learner diversity, and teachers are expected to differentiate the curriculum in ensuring accessibility of learning opportunities to all learners (Engelbrecht, 2006). The aim of this study was therefore to devise teacher-training guidelines for curriculum differentiation to inform teachers on addressing the diverse learning needs of all learners in the Foundation Phase.
Curriculum differentiation as the core of my study is not a standalone practice, but strongly  rooted  within  the  concept  of  IE,  which  according  to  Mitchell  (2005)  is embedded in a range of systems. IE is the key policy that strives for elimination of exclusion in a number of countries including South Africa (Lomofsky & Lazarus, 2001), the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA) (Lindsay, 2007).
To explain the context in which curriculum differentiation should take place, it was imperative to explore related studies on IE, which I did through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1979). The literature review is organised in two consecutive chapters. In Chapter 2, I provide a comprehensive review of scholarly literature on IE, as the point of departure when considering curriculum differentiation. This was done within the framework of Bronfenbrenner’s chronosystem, macrosystem, exosystem and mesosystem. Chapter 3 extends the literature study on IE and includes discussions based on the microsystem as framework. Before embarking on a systemic outline of IE, the concept of IE should first be conceptualised.

CONCEPTUALISING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

IE is a buzzword in social and educational policies in many parts of the world, including the UK, European Union (EU) and the USA (Evans & Lunt, 2002). Hornby (2001) points out that it is prone to confusion, while Lindsay (2003) regards it as a complex and contested concept. When they define and conceptualise the concept of IE, researchers do not uniformly agree on what in fact constitutes IE, as is evident from the various definitions attached to it (Ainscow, 2000; Walton & Nel, 2012) as well as the questions posted by the researchers to explore its meaning. To illustrate, Evans and Lunt (2002) ask questions such as “But what does inclusion mean in practice? Does it mean that the local school should provide for 100 per cent of its local pupils, for 99 or 98 per cent, or some other proportion? Does it mean that all pupils should be educated together in the same class or in the same school, and with the same teacher? Should particular schools include particular pupils, thus enabling pupils to attend mainstream though not their local school? Does it include on-site or off-site units?” (Evans & Lunt, 2002, p.3)
Armstrong et al. (2010) further ask questions such as: What does it really mean to have an education system that is inclusive? Who is in need of IE and why? What could be the advantages of IE? What would help schools to be more inclusive? What common values is IE advocating and by which criteria should its successes be measured?
Englbrecht (2006) believes that the meaning, definition and implementation of IE is culturally determined and depends on the political values and processes of a specific country or state. Thomas (1997) suggests that IE must be part of the heart of any society, which treasures and supports fraternity and equality of opportunities. In European countries (Nilcolm, 2006), the USA (Downing, 2008; Beukelman & Mirenda, 2009; Jordan et al. 2009), Australia (Van Kraayenoord, 2007) and the UK (Miles & Singal, 2010), IE is about including all learners with diverse educational and learning needs in regular classrooms, irrespective of the type and severity of the learning problem, and such learners are to be provided with the necessary support they require. Ainscow et al. (2003) reiterate that IE is an educational practice that provides equal access to the curriculum, belonging, participation and achievement in the general classroom for all. It is considered as paramount to regard IE as an educational reform that supports and welcomes diversity among learners in schools (Ainscow & Sandill, 2010) and that it should be seen as an effective way whereby all learning needs of each child are addressed effectively (Downing, 2008). Considering the definition of IE as provided by the above authors, it becomes apparent that in Europe, the USA and Australia all learners are included in the same schools and in the same classrooms. To ensure quality education for these learners, the state ensures that these schools have all the required services such as psychological services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.
Furthermore, Ainscow et al. (2003) caution that IE is not about dumping children with learning barriers in a regular classroom, but an educational practice that provides equal access to the curriculum, belonging, participation and achievement in the general classroom that will accommodate the educational needs of all learners. Dumping learners, particularly those in need of additional support or those with some sort of disability, in schools without providing them with the support they require will result in their academic and social exclusion and this will be a setback for IE. Nilcolm (2006) asserts that IE should be seen as a practice whereby all children attend the same classes and where everyone respects their right to participate in similar activities, to learn and to build relationships. In terms of participation, Sandkull (2005) adds that IE is an educational process of addressing and responding to the diverse learning needs of all learners, increasing participation and reducing exclusion.
South African researchers Engelbrecht and Green (2001) believe that IE is not about making special accommodations for learners with disabilities in a system designed for others, it is about designing education for all children in schools. It is also not placing a learner with learning difficulties in a regular school, and letting him work on a different task (Ainscow, 2000). Since no learner should be denied access to the curriculum on any grounds including disability, language of communication or learning difficulties (Engelbrecht, Oswald & Forlin, 2006), IE is grounded on the paradigm of human rights and social justice within the discourse of EFA (Miles & Ahuja, 2007). Engelbrecht (2006) as well as Lomofsky and Lazarus (2001) also point out that in South Africa, IE was introduced within the principles of democracy, namely human dignity, freedom and equality redressing previous deficiencies. Similarly, Walton (2011) asserts that the focus of IE in South Africa should be on perusing inequality and social justice through identification and elimination of impediments in all children so that they can access the curricula, facilities and culture of their local school. IE is therefore aligned to political and social issues related to human rights for all children (Reyner, 2007) with the belief that education is the basic human right and the foundation of more than just the society (Ainscow & Sandill, 2010).

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ETHICAL CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE
DECLARATION OF ORIGINALITY 
DECLARATION BY LANGUAGE EDITOR
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ABSTRACT
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION AND BACKGROUND
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY.
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 RESEARCH AIMS
1.5 CONCEPT CLARIFICATION
1.6 PRELIMINARY LITERATURE REVIEW
1.7 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.8 ASSUMPTION OF THIS STUDY
1.9 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.10 RESEARCH METHODS
1.11 TRUSTWORTHINESS
1.12 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.13 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
1.14 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 2: ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION 
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 CONCEPTUALISING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.3 UNDERSTANDING IE IN SOUTH AFRICA WITHIN BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY
2.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 3: A MICROSYSTEMIC PERSPECTIVE ON CURRICULUM DIFFERENTIATION 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE MICROSYSTEM
3.3 CURRICULUM DIFFERENTIATION
3.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 RESEARCH METHODS
4.5 TRUSTWORTHINESS OF THE STUDY
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 5: FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATION 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
5.3 THEMES AND CATEGORIES
5.4 THEMATIC ANALYSIS
5.5 SYNTHESIS: KEY FINDINGS PER THEME
5.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 OVERVIEW OF THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
6.3 SUMMARY OF LITERATURE FINDINGS
6.4 SUMMARY OF EMPIRICAL RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.5 RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS
6.6 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.7 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
6.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.9 CONCLUDING REMARKS
REFERENCE LIST
APPENDIX
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