In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development.
Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.
Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Dustin W. Louie, Aubrey Jean Hanson, and Jacqueline Ottmann
The need to decolonize and Indigenize education stems from shared experiences of colonialism across the globe. In a world divided by ongoing conflict, and fueled by issues of power and control, the need to closely examine the ways that education has served hegemonic interests will help to inform future educational initiatives as well as serve as a form of reparation for those Indigenous peoples who have endured the dire consequences of colonialism. Present-day efforts to reclaim, restore, and revitalize threatened traditions are supported by international bodies such as the United Nations, in tandem with a range of approaches at national levels.
Decolonizing education entails identifying how colonization has impacted education and working to unsettle colonial structures, systems, and dynamics in educational contexts. We use the term education in these descriptions broadly to name the sociocultural task of understanding ways of knowing and being (epistemological and ontological systems) and the ongoing formation and transmission of knowledges: for instance, we mean both formal education as structured through Western schooling and other forms of education such as those traditionally practiced within Indigenous families and communities. Decolonizing education fits within larger understandings of decolonization and Indigenization at socio-political levels. However, these undertakings address in particular the colonization of the mind, of knowledge, language, and culture, and the impacts of colonization at personal and collective levels of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and intellectual experience. In this time of transition, the work of decolonizing schooling necessarily precedes that of Indigenizing education for most educators and learners; yet, in keeping with Indigenous knowledge traditions, education must remain in a state of flux as we come to know this work collectively.
Celia Haig-Brown and Martin Cannon
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Indigenous teacher education has proven to be a powerful influence in the resurgence of indigenous cultures and languages globally. Within Canada, the proliferation of such programs was a direct result of the landmark policy document Indian Control of Indian Education. This document, written by indigenous leaders in response to the Canadian government, was the culmination of a decades-long, relentless commitment to creating the best possible schooling system for indigenous students. In light of the persisting colonial model, which assumed assimilation, and the disappearance of indigenous people and cultures, this articulation served as a wake-up call to government officials and educators alike. Since the 1970s, such programs have transformed the faces of universities and schools. They have prepared innumerable indigenous teachers, have led to significant curriculum reform across the education system, and have provided the basis for similar models in other disciplines. Guiding principles of the programs, arising out of indigenous philosophies, are relationships, respect, responsibility, and relevance.
A number of specific examples encapsulate the varied models. Although most programs emphasize indigenous knowledge, history, and current issues for indigenous peoples and communities, they also address other recognized curriculum areas—known as “teachables” in common parlance—in order to offer thorough and rigorous preparation for student teachers. With some exceptions, graduates achieve university degrees and are qualified to teach in any provincially approved school. Some choose to teach in rural communities, some remain in urban contexts, and a notable number go on to earn additional undergraduate degrees in other disciplines or choose to pursue graduate work in education. Similar moves by Māori scholars, within the very different context of Aotearoa (New Zealand), have had a profound effect on their schools and universities as well.
Since the incursion of Indian Control of Indian Education into the education landscape, several government commissions have re-emphasized its major focuses. Both the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996 and, more recently, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its follow-up to the Indian Residential Schools Agreement address the importance of teacher education in transforming relationships between Canada and indigenous peoples. Increasingly, indigenous philosophies are being re-created and taken up in contemporary context as people strive to imagine a future of equity and sustainability for all. In keeping with these understandings and in response to the federal initiatives, universities for the most part ensure that their teacher education programs incorporate a focus on indigeneity, with many including a required course for degree completion. While indigenous teacher education continues to be associated with programs specifically for indigenous people, it has now also become an integral part of most teacher education programs within Canada.
Cheryl E. Matias, Naomi W. Nishi, and Geneva L. Sarcedo
A litany of literature exists on teacher preparation programs, known as teacher education, and whiteness, which is the historical, systematic, and structural processes that maintain the race-based superiority of white people over people of color. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) are used to explore whiteness and teacher education separately; whiteness within teacher education; the impact of teacher education and whiteness on white educators, educators of Color, and their students; and cautions and recommendations for teacher education and whiteness.
Although teacher education and whiteness are situated within the current US sociopolitical context, the historical colonial contexts of other countries may find parallel examples of whiteness. Within this context, the historical purposes behind teacher education and the need for quality teachers in an increasingly diverse student population are identified using transdisciplinary approaches in CRT and CWS to define and describe operations of whiteness in teacher education. Particularly, race education scholars entertain the psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological ruminations of race, racism, and white supremacy in society and education to understand more fully how whiteness operates within teacher education. For example, an analysis of psychological attachments found in racial identities, particularly between whiteness and Blackness, helps to fully comprehend racial dynamics between teachers, who are overwhelmingly racially identified as white, and students, who are predominantly racially identified as of Color.
Whiteness in teacher education, left intact, ultimately affects K-12 schooling and students, particularly students of Color, in ways that recycle institutionalized white supremacy in schooling practices. Acknowledging how reinforcing hegemonic whiteness in teacher education ultimately reifies institutional white supremacy in education altogether; implications and cautions as well as recommendations are offered to debunk the hegemonic whiteness that inoculates teacher education.
Note: To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in our research, the authors opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize “people of Color” to recognize it as a proper noun along with Black and Brown.