A programme for facilitating effective leadership for inclusive schooling
Kgothule, Rantsie Jeremiah
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Inclusive education in South Africa is no longer a matter of choice because it has reached its implementation phase. Inclusive education aims to improve the total education system by providing quality education for all learners - including disabled learners and those who experience barriers to learning due to other reasons. In this study, the researcher investigated leadership knowledge and skills that are of crucial importance when trying to implement inclusive schooling effectively. The researcher employed a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to investigate the following problem statement: what knowledge and skills are essential for school managers to implement inclusive education effectively? The literature revealed that efficient leadership remains one of the most important indicators of successful inclusive education implementation. Leaders (in this study represented by School Management Teams) should be democratic change agents who lead from the front in terms of selling a vision, obtaining resources, adapting standard operating procedures, monitoring the progress made and handling conflict arising from inclusion. The Index for Inclusion was explored and eventually utilized as the basis of the empirical study through questionnaires: leaders should create an inclusive culture, produce inclusive policies and lead the evolvement of inclusive practices. In the empirical study the indicators of the Index for Inclusion were utilized to ascertain the opinions of School Management Teams and educators with regards to the knowledge and skills of school leaders within an inclusive environment. It became apparent that, on the whole, respondents are well aware of most of the leadership issues to ensure effective inclusive education implementation, but that many issues have not been addressed sufficiently in practice. In the light of these findings, a programme framework for facilitating effective leadership for inclusive schooling was developed. The programme framework consists of seven modules and is based on the three dimensions of the Index for Inclusion. It is foreseen that this programme framework will contribute substantially to the effective implementation of inclusive education in South African schools, by empowering school leaders.