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A “working group” consisting of stakeholders from the Free State and Northern Cape got together on the 24th and 25th of October at the University of the Free State to reflect on the status of inclusive education in the two provinces. The working group was one of three started up at the 2nd Annual Symposium on Inclusive Education (Vanderbijlpark, June 7, 8 2017). The event was led by the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Central University of Technology (CUT) under the EU-funded ‘Teaching and Learning for Inclusive Education’ project.  The objectives of the project correspond to strategic priorities of the Government of South Africa to provide access to quality education for all.  

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) have not adequately equipped teachers with the skills to identify and address barriers to learning. This has resulted in an unacceptable number of learners not making progress in the education system, evidenced by high drop-out rates and low numbers of Grade 12 school leavers. Key stakeholders need to reflect on the challenges and identify ways of addressing improvements in the teacher education system regarding developing the skills, knowledge and understanding of student teachers, newly qualified and existing teachers to be able to teach more inclusively.    

In the light of the fact that the project is being piloted in the Free State and Northern Cape, the Working Group decided to focus on stakeholders and activities in the two Provinces.  A committee comprised of members of the two Universities, the Free State and Northern Cape Departments of Education and VVOB planned the one-and-a half -day working group event.  

Provinces showcased best practices in terms of leadership, support in the classroom and full-service and special schools. Commissions reflected on questions around implementation of inclusive practises in this context. Discussions in the commissions allowed for reflection on teacher development of pre-service, new and in-service teachers to support inclusive teaching practises in the classroom. The annual symposia hosted by the project in 2018 will serve as a platform to disseminate and discuss the outputs of the working group. The University of the Free State and the Central University of Technology will present the findings.

More pictures can be found here.