Durban - It’s a sunny Friday afternoon, late March 2019. A four-day workshop on Curriculum Differentiation, organised by the Department of Education in KwaZulu Natal and supported by VVOB South Africa has just been completed. The key guest speaker at the workshop is Mr. Jabulani Ngcobo, Chief Education Specialist and currently Acting Director of Inclusive Education at the Department of Basic Education. His presentation ‘Introduction to curriculum differentiation in South Africa: vision and framework, strategies for support to teachers’, piqued our interest. Curious to find out more about his views on Inclusion, Curriculum Differentiation, and his experience of the past four days, VVOB South Africa speaks to him.
The Inclusive Education Directorate wants to achieve that through the effective implementation of Education White Paper 6, and by building an inclusive training and education system. “We have curriculum differentiation, we have policy guiding support to learners, there are strategies to improve subject performance,” Mr. Ngcobo explains. However, there are some obstacles to implementing an inclusive education system, for example, limited resources and limiting attitudes. “Because we come from a history of segregation, a history that sees people as not equally important, and that history still lingers,” Mr. Ngcobo clarifies. “It will take time for those stereotypes to be done away with. It will take time and patience.”
To deal with these challenges, Mr. Ngcobo thinks that inclusive education should be part of how we lead within the system. “Those that are at the top need to steer it, and talk about it, and make sure that there’s buy-in. Everyone needs to embrace an inclusive education mindset.” he explains. Next to that, he feels there should be a strong focus on the Foundation Phase. If the basis is there, it will alleviate pressure later on, as less energy needs to be put into catching up on what should’ve already been learnt,” he says. Thirdly, Mr. Ngcobo feels the time is now to focus on subject-specific curriculum differentiation. According to Mr. Ngcobo, curriculum differentiation would have a huge impact on the system if it’s properly implemented, because it has potential to benefit all learners.
Next to that, Mr. Ngcobo learnt that there are a lot of resources out there already. “What fascinated me, and maybe surprised me a bit, is the wealth of resources that we have already. Now we need to make sure that people are aware of those resources that are already there,” he says. The workshop brought together officials from different directorates: curriculum, inclusive education, teacher development, circuit management etc. This does not happen very often and Mr. Ngcobo feels that people have been able to build a network. “We now have a network and we can use this to make things happen for schools and teachers,” he explains. He also sees the benefits of having international guest speakers or facilitators. “With the Belgian and Cuban expert facilitators, we could continue to share what worked for us, what the challenges are and how we deal with those challenges in our countries,” he states.