Perceptions of inclusive education of parents of children without disabilities

Loebenstein, Harriet (2002-03)

Thesis (MEd)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This qualitative study has placed a focus upon the experiences of inclusive education of parents of learners without disabilities. As the advent of inclusive education in South Africa has been accompanied by substantial political, social and legislative changes, an ecosystemic theoretical framework has informed the process of this study in order to acknowledge and better understand the influence of various contexts on individuals in their constructions of reality. Recent South African policy documents have endorsed inclusive education as the conceptual framework within which previously disparate systems of educational provision can be united and learners of all abilities optimally accommodated. These documents have not only drawn attention to the need to recognise the rights and potential and actual contributions of parents to the process of education, but have also called for reporting on inclusive educational practice within various institutional contexts. It is against this backdrop that this study has attempted through an interpretative and constructive research philosophy and design to access and interpret the perceptions and experiences of the parents who voluntarily participated in the research process. Permission was obtained from the Western Cape Education Department to conduct focus group discussions at a school which has included learners with Down Syndrome. Two focus group discussions were conducted with groups of parents of children without disabilities in venues provided within the school buildings. Participating parents were asked to reflect on their experiences of inclusive education initially as part of a written response to the research question and later through interactive discussion within the focus group. Follow up telephonic interviews provided member checks on the initial data analysis and enabled further reflections on the research question. Data analysis was achieved through the constant comparative method of data interpretation. This process yielded patterns within the data which ultimately led to the formation of various categories which were grouped systemically to enable a holistic interpretation of the research results. The analysis of results revealed responses to various issues and a generally favourable attitude to inclusive education, particularly the degree to which the parents' children had been advantaged by an exposure to difference and the extent to which more realistic representations of disability had been constructed by the parents. Responses ranged from views concerning the implementation of government policy, difficulty with constructions of disability, concerns regarding the ability of the school system and particularly teachers to monitor and manage this change in educational policy, to more personal issues which involved the perceived benefits of socialization with learners with disabilities. The implications of the study suggest that interactive discussion is a vehicle through which democracy can be actively practised, change can be positively mediated, solutions to educational challenges collaboratively constructed and partnerships between parents and schools more firmly established.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie van inklusiewe onderwys plaas die klem op die ervaring van ouers van leerders sonder gestremdhede. Aangesien die instelling van inklusiewe onderwys in Suid-Afrika gepaard gegaan het met aansienlike politieke, sosiale en wetgewende veranderinge, het en ekosistemiese teoretiese raamwerk die verloop van hierdie studie aangehelp, om sodoende die invloed van verskeie kontekste op individue in hulle formulering van die werklikheid te erken en beter te verstaan. Onlangse Suid-Afrikaanse beleidsdokumente het inklusiewe onderwys goedgekeur as die konseptuele raamwerk waarbinne voorheen uiteenlopende onderwysvoorsieningstelsels verenig kan word, waardeur leerders van aile vermoens optimaal geakkommodeer kan word. Hierdie dokumente het nie aileen die aandag gevestig op die behoefte aan erkenning van die regte en potensiele en wesenlike bydraes van ouers tot die onderwysproses nie, maar het ook versoek dat verslag gedoen word oor inklusiewe onderwyspraktyk binne verskeie institusionele kontekste. Dit is teen hierdie agtergrond dat die studie gepoog het om deur en interpreterende en konstruktiewe navorsingsfilosofie en -ontwerp, die persepsies en ervarings van die ouers wat vrywillig deelgeneem het aan die navorsingsproses, te bekom en te interpreteer. Met die vergunning van die Wes-Kaapse Onderwysdepartement is fokusgroepbesprekings gehou by en skool wat leerders met Down sindroom ingesluit het. Twee fokusgroepbesprekings met groepe ouers van kinders sonder gestremdhede, is op die skoolperseel gehou. Deelnemende ouers is gevra om te besin oor hulle ervaring van inklusiewe onderwys, aanvanklik as deel van enskriftelike antwoord op die navorsingsvraag en later deur interaktiewe besprekings binne die fokusgroep. Telefoniese opvolgonderhoude met groeplede het die aanvanklike data-ontleding voorsien en het gelei tot verdere besinning oor die navorsingsvraag. Data-ontleding is gedoen deur die konstante vergelykende metode van datainterpretasie. Hierdie proses het patrone binne die data opgelewer, wat uiteindelik gelei het tot die samestelling van verskeie kategoriee wat sistemies gegroepeer IS om 'n holistiese interpretasie van die navorsingsresultate moontlik te maak. Die ontleding van resultate het reaksies op verskeie kwessies opgelewer en in die algemeen 'n gunstige houding teenoor inklusiewe onderwys geopenbaar, veral die graad waartoe die ouers se kinders bevoordeel is deur blootstelling aan andersheid en die mate waartoe meer realistiese erkenning van gestremdheid deur die ouers geformuleer is. Antwoorde het gewissel van menings oor die implementering van regeringsbeleid, probleme met formulering van gestremdheid , kommer oor die verrnoe van die skoolstelsel en veral leer- kragte, om hierdie verandering in onderwysbeleid te monitor en te bestuur, tot meer persoonlike kwessies wat menings ingesluit het oor die voordele van sosialisering met leerders met gestremdhede. Die implikasies van die studie suggereer dat interaktiewe bespreking 'n middel is waardeur demokrasie aktief beoefen kan word, verandering positief bemiddel kan word, oplossings vir onderwysuitdagings samewerkend geformuleer kan word en vennootskappe tussen ouers en skole meer stewig gevestig kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52990
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