As a way of giving concrete expression to Minister Angie Motshekga’s declaration of 2013 as “the Year of Inclusive Education”, in early December the Department of Basic Education (DBE), assisted by MIET AFRICA, hosted a workshop on Inclusive Education. The workshop was made possible out of Embassy of Sweden’s funding for the North/South Cooperation on Teaching for Inclusion and Democracy project. (For background on the project, refer to our other article, Collaborating for inclusion and democracy). One of the main objectives of the workshop was for the country teams (i.e. from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) to present their research on democratic and inclusive approaches to learning, which was done to inform the development of pre- and in-service teacher education.
The workshop was held at the DBE’s Conference Centre in Pretoria, and was well attended by officials from each of the provinces’ Inclusive Education, Teacher Development and Curriculum Directorates. The DBE’s Deputy Director-General, Mr H M Mweli , was also in attendance. Dignitaries who graced the occasion included Minister Motshekga herself, and the Swedish Ambassador, His Excellency Anders Hagelberg . In their addresses, they both emphasized the importance and relevance of inclusion in the diverse school communities and societies we live in.
Group sessions at the workshop generated concrete recommendations for turning the policy of Inclusive Education into a reality. By the end of the workshop, there was a demonstrable sense of urgency to go back and implement the noble principles of inclusion through, among other things, the revisiting of certain policies, the empowerment of teachers, greater collaboration among different directorates, and the infusing of the values of inclusion across society. In the words of the Director of Continuing Teacher Development in the DBE, Mr H Mahomed:
Every teacher is to be an inclusive teacher. The broader ideal is for every home, workplace, community organization to be an inclusive institution.