Barriers and facilitators therapists experience regarding their support provision in an inclusive education system
Kotze, Josephine Dianne
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In South Africa, the Education White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education (2001) Building an inclusive education and training system stated that the special schools would be resource centres for ordinary schools that admit learners with disabilities. Occupational therapists,physiotherapists, speech and language therapists (collectively called therapists) had previously been employed in special schools, but under the new structure, would form part of the district-based support teams to provide their support to ordinary and full service schools.Therapists working in an inclusive education system would need to change the focus of their model of support from a medical model of direct support to a health-promoting model of indirect support. The aim of the current study was to determine whether therapists are changing their model of support in building inclusive and health-promoting schools and also to determine the barriers and facilitators they experience in providing their support in an inclusive education system. This study used both qualitative and quantitative methodology.The quantitative component was a non-experimental, descriptive, cross-sectional design,using one questionnaire in a survey. The questionnaire was used to determine the type of support provided to schools. In total, 97 therapists, who worked at special schools in the Western Cape, participated in the study by completing the questionnaire. The test-retest results of the questionnaire indicated that most of questions (63%) showed perfect agreement (Kappa 0.81-1.0). Quantitative data analysis was done by descriptive statistics, using SPSS.The results indicated that therapists were using the medical model of support combined with a more holistic approach using the principles of the health-promoting framework. The qualitative component involved three group interviews, which were held at three different special schools, in three different education districts, with a total of 12 therapists. The group interviews were used to determine the barriers and facilitators that either prevent or promote provision of support. Qualitative data analysis was done by using content analysis with codes and themes to determine barriers and facilitators. The barriers included the following: therapists’ uncertainty about roles; lack of networking, lack of certain competencies and training; delayed response from district; lack of policy;autocratic leadership styles; exclusion from the district-based support team; concern to support learners at special school; therapists being based at the special school; lack of human resources; insufficient time; cost of therapists’ training; education department circuit boundaries affecting communication;negative attitudes of principals and educators; and parents’ non-involvement. The facilitators included therapists’ competencies to fulfil roles; educators’ positive attitude; meetings; training to improve therapists’ skills; the co-ordinating role of the district-based support team;and the supportive role of learner support educator and the principal. This study provides evidence concerning therapists’ roles and the barriers and facilitators which therapists experience regarding their support provision in an inclusive education system.