The meaning of inclusive education
Some years ago, when inclusive education was just becoming known in South Africa, a colleague told me about her husband’s new job. He had been appointed in an independent high school that had taken a policy decision to pursue ‘inclusion’. The school had a reputation for stringent academic entry requirements and exceptional matriculation results. Now, the school was looking to ‘include’ learners from remedial or special primary schools, and others who previously would not have met the minimum entry requirements. My colleague explained (with no apparent sense of irony) that her husband had been assigned to the ‘inclusion class’ and would be responsible for the ‘inclusion kids’. In the interests of providing ‘support’ in a smaller class with handpicked teachers, this school had decided to contain all the learners admitted in terms of the new inclusion policy in one class. I am convinced that the school devised this arrangement with the expectation that it would give these learners the best possible chance of success in this hitherto exclusionary educational environment. But whether or not this counts as ‘inclusive education’ or ‘inclusion’ is debatable, depending on what inclusive education or inclusion means.