Implementation of inclusive education: how far are we?

Implementation of inclusive education: how far are we?

Funding for special needs education in South Africa is insufficient to meet the government’s policy goals

In 2001 the South African government released a white paper outlining the new policy framework for the delivery of special needs education. This paper assesses whether the funding and implementation capacity of provincial education departments was sufficient to realise the goals set out in 'Education White Paper 6: Special Needs Education – Building an Inclusive Education and Training System'.

The report describes the pressures on provincial governments and education delivery, including:

  • wage increases in the years preceding the white paper’s release
  • an emphasis on the purchase of assistive devices, at the expense of personnel expenditures
  • delays in implementing a national conditional grant for special needs education
  • delays in publishing funding norms and standards

The authors find that overall, funding and capacity are inadequate at the provincial levels:

  • many provincial education departments lack funds for placement of special needs students
  • there was little evidence of well-directed advocacy campaigns to engage local education staff in the implementation of the policy
  • local education managers resisted moves to engage more special needs students
  • infrastructure in many schools is inadequate

The report suggests that it was a mistake for policy on special needs education to have been combined with ‘inclusive education’.