How can we close the gap between policy and practice by better preparing teachers for inclusive and democratic classroom practice? From November 2011 to December 2013, MIET Africa collaborated with Stockholm University and representatives from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to research democratic and inclusive approaches to learning in teacher education and come up with recommendations and guidance for pre-service and in-service teacher training.
The country partner teams met in Windhoek, Namibia in March 2012 to present and discuss findings from desktop reviews of the status of inclusive education and teacher training in each of the four countries involved.Since then, the partners have been working to create a consolidated document that considers the following aspects from each country: 1) inclusive education policy, 2) existing pre- and in-service teacher training programmes and 3) a literature review evaluating to what extent teacher programmes are preparing teachers for inclusive and democratic classrooms.
The research clearly indicated a global shift away from Special Education and toward Inclusive Education in the education policy of all four partner countries. Unfortunately, a ‘disconnect’ was noted in these countries between policy and practice, and the shift from a ‘disability’ mindset to inclusivity has been slow. It also appeared that teacher training in the partner countries did not adequately prepare teachers for inclusive classrooms (further emphasizing the discrepancy between policy and practice). The project responded to these needs by providing recommendations for improving the level of teacher preparation and realizing policy.