Training quality learner support teachers at North-West University: a framework for meeting the educational challenge
The implementation of Inclusive education has, heretofore, been problematic and the transformation process of special (diverse) education has not been realised. The motivation for this study was; firstly, that after 24 years of democracy, learners with barriers to learning do not as yet receive the quality education that will address their educational needs. Secondly, a further motivation for this study was that teachers are unmercifully criticised for inadequate teaching and learning practices in their classrooms. This made me pose the question of whether we adequately train quality Learner Support Teachers, specifically in BEd Honours specialising in Learner Support. This study is comprised of four sub studies, reported in four articles. Article 1 (Chapter 2) aims to give an overview of the development of special (diverse) education for learners with diverse learning needs in the South African context. The development of diverse education is presented from a bio-ecological systems perspective to show the systemic strengths and challenges in each system, and how the interactive processes between the systems impact on learners with barriers to learning. A document analysis served as method of data generation by means of research literature, including academic articles, reports, policies and policy reviews. The bio-ecological model helped to determine successes and challenges in each educational level by means of categorising data within the levels of education systems. Article 2 (Manuscript 18 for a book chapter) explores the perceptions of university lecturers of Learner Support modules in the BEd honours programmes at higher education institutions. The motivation for this article is that teachers need to be trained to address the diverse educational needs of learners with barriers to learning. Therefore, the perceptions of lecturers at higher education institutions are important concerning current practices used for curriculum development, as well as teaching and learning strategies. The findings indicated that lecturers are aware of their roles, which are to prepare post graduate students to cope with the diversity of educational needs of learners with barriers to learning. Yet, there is a gap between theoretical and practical training and the curriculum must be developed in a more practical manner to be more flexible in order to adjust to the contexts of both the post graduate students as well as learners in their classrooms. Article 3 explores the perceptions of alumni post graduate students who are currently in a teaching post. Obtaining information directly from alumni students themselves would provide insight into how their training relates to the reality experienced in the classrooms, which was the motivation for this article. Considering the South African context, teachers are confronted with diverse educational challenges on a daily basis, therefore, the strengths and challenges of the training they received, will either equip or hamper them in their daily functioning in the classroom. The findings revealed that alumni students highly value the theoretical training they received, but also identify a gap in practical application. All things considered, the findings of the first three articles enabled us to compile a framework (Article 4) that suggested curriculum requirements for training quality Learner Support students at higher education institutions. To date, there is no such framework for BEd Hons Learner Support training, resulting in this framework contributing as a starting point for curriculum requirements, and hopefully initiating further development and research towards a national framework.
- Education