ATC150625: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on a Visit to the Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) Offices followed by visits to two Full Service School in Cape Town, dated 23 June 2015.

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on a Visit to the Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) Offices followed by visits to two Full Service School in Cape Town, dated 23 June 2015.

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having visited the Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) Offices followed by visits to two Full Service Schools in Cape Town on the 29 May 2015, reports as follows:


1.         Introduction


  1. A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education undertook a visit to the Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) Offices in Wynberg, Cape Town on 29 May 2015. This was followed by visits to two Full-service Schools namely:


  • Fairview Full-service Primary School in Grassy Park, Cape Town
  • Liwa Full-service Primary School in Nyanga, Cape Town


  1. The visit followed an invitation from IESA to share their perspective on Inclusive Education, including demonstrating examples of good inclusive practice in action.


  1. Guided by the National Development Plan and the Medium Term Strategic Framework, 2014-2019, the Portfolio Committee has identified oversight over the implementation of Inclusive Education as one of its key priorities over the next five years.


  1. The delegation comprised the following members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon N R Mokoto, MP (ANC) (Whip), Hon J Basson MP (ANC), Hon H D Khosa MP (ANC), Hon D Mnguni MP (ANC) and Hon L M Ntshayisa.


  1. Members of staff included Mr L A Brown (Committee Secretary), Mr D Bandi (Content Advisor), Mr M Kekana (Researcher), Ms L Stofile (Researcher) and Ms R Azzakani (Communications Officer).


  1. The representative from the National Department of Basic Education was Dr M Simelane, Director: Inclusive Education.


2.         Background and Context


            2.1        Policy Context


The term Full-Service School was introduced in Education White Paper 6 on Inclusive Education(2001) firstly, to underline the important role mainstream schools can play in developing an inclusive system, and secondly, to clarify their role as levers of change.


The National Development Plan (NDP) Vision for 2030 sets out to provide Inclusive Education that enables everyone to participate effectively in a free society. The Action Plan to 2019 for Schooling 2030, as aligned to the NDP, mandated the Department of Basic Education (DBE), to strengthen the implementation of Inclusive Education and to ensure greater success for all learners, particularly the previously disadvantaged, to educational support in their local neighborhood schools. It is also intended to contribute to the mind-set shift in the way the schooling system regards special needs and disabilities.


2.2 Full-Service Schools and Inclusive Education


Full-Service Schools are first and foremost mainstream education institutions that provide quality education to all learners by supplying the full range of learning needs in an equitable manner. They have the capacity to respond to diversity by providing appropriate education for the individual needs of learners, irrespective of disability or differences in learning style or pace, or social difficulties experienced; and they establish methods to assist curriculum and institutional transformation to ensure both an awareness of diversity, and that additional support is available to learners and educators where required.


Inclusive Education recognises the right of all children to feel welcomed into a supportive educational environment in their own community. It refers to the capacity of ordinary local schools and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres to respond to the needs of all learners, including those requiring extra support because of learning or physical disability, social disadvantage, cultural difference or other barriers to learning.


2.3 Provision for different Disabilities in South Africa


Data of the DBE suggests that Intellectual disability in its various forms constitutes the highest prevalence compared to all disabilities. Intervention and support for intellectual disability requires Curriculum Differentiation in the main. Disabilities such as deafness, blindness and Autism Spectrum Disorder do not constitute large numbers but because of their complex nature require highly specialised interventions in special schools.


In terms of special needs enrolment in special schools, the number of these schools is steadily increasing, with new schools being built by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). According to available data of the DBE, in 2013, the total number of Special Schools nationally stood at 444. Gauteng had the most number of special schools at 131 followed by the Western Cape with 82 schools and KwaZulu-Natal with 72. Nationally, the educator/learner ratio in Special Schools averaged 1:11 fluctuating between 10 and 12. Essentially, educators in Special Schools are expected to provide individual attention to learners with minimal difficulty. The quality of education in special schools remains a challenge.


In 2014, a total of 774 public ordinary schools were designated full-service schools with a total of 25 213 learners. North West had the highest number of full-service schools followed by the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, each with 100 such schools. The Free State had the highest number of enrollment of learners with special educational needs followed by Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.


2.4 Inclusive Education Policy Implementation Profile for the Western Cape


According to the Western Cape Education Department, the Province has 1457 schools of which 40 are implementing inclusive education. Currently there are 5 794 learners with disabilities in ordinary schools. The Province has five (5) full-service schools per district and relied on 620 educators with requisite skills on remedial education to implement the programme in ordinary schools. Through accredited Higher Education Institutions a total of 320 educators receive training on inclusive education. There are 472 itinerant learning support educators working with two/three primary schools with only eight full-service high schools having learner support educators. The Province has eight newly established Alternative and Augmentative Communication/Assistive Device loan centres (AAC centres) – one per district.Support of schools on the maintenance plan for special equipment such as mobility aids and hearing aids is provided by the ACC centres and eight district therapy coordinators. The Cape Teaching and Learning Institute, the Western Cape Education Department’s training institute runs courses on addressing barriers to learning. Multi-disciplinary inclusive education outreach teams operating from 16 Special School Resource Centres provide support to ordinary schools. Schools designated as full-service schools are receiving training in all aspects of inclusion, including creating an inclusive ethos at schools. The Province has successfully mediated the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) policy through the province and training is forthcoming during the winter school vacation. 


3.         Engagement with Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA)


Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) was established in 1995 by a group of concerned parents and has grown into an established Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which advocated for the rights of all children to supportive quality education. IESA was also involved in the formulation of the Inclusive Education Policy with the roll-out of White Paper 6 being piloted in the Western Cape.


IESA was involved with the training of at least 1 000 educators in managing diversity in classrooms and was active in the Western and Northern Cape as well as KwaZulu-Natal. They also influenced the implementation of good inclusive practices in schools and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres which focused on early identification and early intervention.The service provided by IESA included the following:


  • Inclusive Education Training and Development – These included training and development for teachers, ECD Centre staff, education departments support staff and the Whole-School community
  • Advocacy and Awareness-raising – Improved implementation of national Inclusive Education Policy at provincial, district and school level. Awareness-raising with parents regarding inclusive education at schools
  • Inclusive Schools Programme – Strengthening the learning environment (primary and high schools)
  • Resource Centre – Library, resource materials and database of services
  • Vulnerable Learner Support Services – Free information and advice service, training and workshops for parents and  educators
  • Early Childhood Development – Practitioner training and capacity building


Inclusion of young children with disabilities into mainstream ECD Centres significantly improves their opportunities for learning and participation as well as benefitting social cohesion between all children. Through the support and funding by the Department of Social Development, IESA was able to train 1 100 practitioners in inclusive education per year. IESA also has projects running at schools in the Northern Cape i.e. Springbok, Steinkopf, Brandvlei and Kleinsee. In the Eastern Cape, IESA is working with a consortium of educational organisations in Grahamstown – a three-year project aimed at strengthening inclusion at 12 identified full-service schools in the district.


Some of the challenges being experienced in implementation included the following:

  • Inclusive education was not integrated well into all DBE programmes.
  • Inclusive education was not seen as a priority in the DBE Strategic planning with no reporting on targets in the annual reports.
  • There was poor budget planning and budget allocations were insufficient and inconsistently utilised across provinces.
  • The education system was still too focused on assessment for placement rather than assessment for support.
  • School admission processes were not aligned to the policy.
  • In terms of teacher capacity, there was a lack of experience, confidence and training in teaching to diversity.
  • The formality of curriculum delivery and monitoring was a challenge.


Apart from the above challenges, IESA alluded to some of the successesand achievements which included:

  • A shift in understanding the concept of barriers to learning, increased levels of support and continuum of support provision.
  • Increased access to full-service schools as well as special school resource centres.
  • Development of the sign-language curriculum, including a draft of a curriculum for learners with severe intellectual disability.
  • The Gazetted policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS).
  • The development of the role of the school-based support teams.
  • Provision of increased support from district and circuit teams.


4.         Visit to Full-Service Schools


4.1        Fairview Full-Service Primary School in Grassy Park, Cape Town


The school is situated in the Metropole South District (Circuit 3) in Grassy Park. As of 2015 the Fairview Full-service Primary School has 32 educators and 975 learners with an average class-size of 38. The school buildings were in a very good condition with classrooms and facilities accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities. The school had adequate ablution facilities for all learners and staff and was a safe and secure place for all learners and educators. With final renovations underway, the school was challenged in accessing specialized equipment for learners with disabilities.


Fairview Full-Service Primary School had a basic level of teaching and learning materials needed for inclusive education with qualified educators with availability of qualified remedial/learning support teachers. There was greater flexibility in teaching methods and assessment of learning with additional support and intervention to ensure learners access and progress in the general curriculum. The School Management Team also received the necessary training in management skills regarding inclusive education and learners have access to specialist support staff (counsellors, psychologists, speech therapists, social workers and diagnostic psychologists). The school had a good collaborative relationship with various therapists in the area – as well as access for learners to the nearby Art School. Learners at the school also received the necessary screening on health matters including eye-sight, hearing and malnutrition.The school had a small budget for the services of teacher assistants – but this needed to be increased. Staff also received training in the assessment of learner needs for placement in appropriate intervention programmes.


The delegation concluded its visit with a walk-about of the school and some of its classrooms.


4.2        Liwa Full-Service Primary School


Liwa Full-Service Primary School is a newly designated full-service school situated in Nyanga.As of 2015 the school has a learner enrolment of 507, 16 educators and an average class size of 37. The school has a full-time remedial/learning support teacher to support learners.The school has one learner with a mild physical disability. Many learners at the school faced social challenges requiring differentiated learning.


It was noted that learners have access to a District team of specialist support staff such as psychologists and therapists who visit the school once a week. The District support team also supported educators to implement Inclusive Education.


With regard to infrastructure, the school buildings were in good condition though there was a need for renovations in some buildings. Not all classes were universally accessible. The Committee was informed that assistive technology and specialized equipment was provided according to the need of individual learners through the District Based Support Team via a newly established assistive Devices Loan Centre which will operate per district. The Department of Health supported learners with regards to wheelchairs, walking frames and hearing aids.


It was highlighted that the school environment was not safe due to informal business activities next to the school. 


The delegation concluded its visit with a walk-about of the school and some of its classrooms.


5.         Portfolio Committee Observations


  • The Portfolio Committee welcomed IESA’s initiative to share their perspective on best practice regarding the implementation of Inclusive Education.Members appreciated that IESA aimed to provide training and on-site support to facilitate effective inclusive practice and supportive partnerships. 
  • The Committee sought clarity as to whether IESA was a training institution and raised concerns over the continued development and training of educators, especially special needs educators.It was noted that IESA’s training programmes were registered with the South African Council for Educators (SACE).
  • The Committee noted the concerns raised regarding the challenges around the implementation and training on the CAPS with reference to Curriculum Differentiation. Subsequent training on the CAPS was limited when offered. Many educators were unableto implement curriculum differentiation. The Committee was concerned that the CAPS training at the time was more geared towards orientation, rather than actual training.
  • The Committee noted the concerns over the limited budget available for the services of training assistants which were largely not budgeted for by schools.
  • The Committee acknowledged the outcry for in-depth CAPS training and development focusing on Curriculum Differentiation, especially at Foundation Phase where it was most important.
  • The Committee further noted the Department’s intention to strengthen education provision for all learners through the introduction of the vocational occupational pathway, to add to the existing academic and technical vocational streams.
  • The Committee queried whether IESA was planning similar centres in other provinces.
  • Members noted that, although Liwa Full Service Primary School was operating as a full service school, it had not yet been formally registered.  


6.         Portfolio Committee Recommendations


The Portfolio Committee recommends that the Minister of Basic Education ensure that the Department of Basic Education:


  • Together with the Western Cape Education Department, use the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) as a tool for employing teaching assistants to broaden the impact of an inclusive curriculum in the education system.
  • Continue its pursuit for a possible three-stream curriculum to accommodate academic, vocational/skills and technical streams.
  • Ensure focused attention on the continued development and training of educators, especially special needs educators.
  • Ensure that all educators receive the necessary training, development and implementation of CAPS; particularly at the Foundation Phase.
  • Ensure that Inclusive Education is integrated more effectively into all DBE programmes and becomes a priority in the Department’s Strategic planning.
  • Ensure sufficient and adequate budget planning and budget allocations to provinces. The Department should ensure effective monitoring and oversight in respect of the utilisation of these budgets by provinces.


  • Together with the Western Cape Education Department,take the necessary steps to accelerate the formal registration of Liwa Full Service primary School to enable it to receive the necessary funding.


Report to be considered



No related documents