An explorative study of inclusive education at mainstream secondary schools for learners with special needs
During apartheid, black learners with disabilities experienced difficulties accessing education. At this time very few special schools existed and admissions were limited, as they were restricted according to certain segregation criteria. In 2001, the Education White Paper 6 was published, demarcating that South African education should shift into the international trend of inclusion. Inclusion, relating to mainstream schools, encourages the schools to review their structures, approaches to teaching, student grouping and promote schools to meet the diverse needs of all students. Research indicated that inclusive education has been promoted in primary schools. However, there is limited research regarding inclusive education in secondary schools in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to explore the implementation of inclusive education in secondary schools for learners with special needs. The research study used an exploratory qualitative methodology with an interpretivist approach. Participants included the principal, teachers and learners from a secondary school which has an inclusive approach. Purposive sampling was used to identify participants. There were 12 participants who partook in the study and data was collected through a focus group discussion and individual interviews. The focus group consisted of 6 non-disabled learners who participated in the study. Data were analysed through the use of thematic analysis. The results suggest that learners with special needs should be taught in this mainstream secondary school. Teachers and non-disabled learners accept learners with special needs in their classroom and at their school. However, there are a number of barriers such as access, awareness, lack of training, that hinder the full participation of teachers when assisting learners with special needs.