Promoting the implementation of inclusive education in primary schools in South Africa

Petra ENGELBRECHT, Marietjie OSWALD, Christine Irene FORLIN

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67 Citations (Scopus)


The British Index for Inclusion was selected to be used in three primary schools in the Western Cape Province in South Africa in order to develop a South African model to assist in the development of inclusive schools. The Index for Inclusion process entails progression through a series of five developmental phases and this paper, written by Petra Engelbrecht, professor in educational psychology and special education and senior research director at Stellenbosch University, Marietjie Oswald, lecturer in special education at Stellenbosch University, and Chris Forlin, associate professor in special education at the Hong Kong Institute of Special Education, is a reflection of the first two phases. Qualitative data were generated from the consultative process followed in the schools during the first phase and both qualitative and quantitative data from questionnaires regarding the perceptions of all school community members on the inclusive practices or lack thereof in their schools during the second phase. The authors drew out the following five themes from the three sets of data: an inclusive school philosophy; democratic leadership, structures, processes and values; collaboration; addressing learner diversity; and resources. Petra Engelbrecht, Marietjie Oswald and Chris Forlin, all of whom were working on a UNESCO-funded project to trial the use of the Index for Inclusion in South Africa, suggest that these themes provided invaluable insights into both the common and unique complexities, the problems and the assets of the different school communities. The themes are discussed in detail in this article, raising fascinating issues for the development of inclusion in different contexts around the world, and will be used to inform the three remaining phases of the Index for Inclusion process. Copyright © 2006 National Council for Special Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
JournalBritish Journal of Special Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


Engelbrecht, P., Oswald, M., & Forlin, C. (2006). Promoting the implementation of inclusive education in primary schools in South Africa. British Journal of Special Education, 33(3), 121-129.


  • Inclusion
  • Primary schools
  • Community
  • Leadership
  • Questionnaires


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