Evaluation of the Teaching for All project guides inclusive education efforts
The British Council has launched a research report evaluating the impact of the Teaching for All project, focused on embedding inclusive education in teacher professional development in South Africa. The evaluation research, contracted to the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University, was led by Professor Yusuf Sayed, honorary Professor at the ISER and Director of the Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), with PhD candidates Thomas Salmon of Rhodes ISER and Lorna Balie of CPUT.
The report, Embedding Inclusive Education in Teacher Professional Development in South Africa: Impact evaluation report on the Teaching for All project, provides an overview of one aspect of a larger programme funded by the European Union (EU). “The Teaching for All project has been a remarkable four year journey with a broad range of partners, collaborators, academics, students and teachers who gave unselfishly of their time, knowledge and skills to develop a set of open source inclusive education materials for South African education institutions,” says Jean September, British Council Deputy Director for South Africa. “Together with our partners, MIET AFRICA, the University of South Africa (UNISA), and the Department of Basic Education (DBE), we are proud to be implementing a programme that aims to facilitate the professional development of teachers in a social model of inclusive education and the use of inclusive education pedagogies. ”
The British Council sought out rigorous academic evaluation to inform the next steps for the project, rather than a traditional M&E firm. The evaluation work was done in partnership with a broad range of government, civil society stakeholders and ten universities. “The British Council is deeply grateful to Prof Sayed and colleagues from the ISER and CITE at CPUT for the excellent monitoring and evaluation research delivered,” says Joanne Newton, Programme Manager of Teaching for All at the British Council. “Prof Sayed brought deep knowledge and a real passion for inclusive education and social justice in South Africa, as well as a strong international track record as an education researcher. We have seen many positive outcomes, including reaching a deeper understanding of policy, greater collaboration with the network of universities and advanced technical expertise applied to the evaluation.”
The report highlights the wide reach of the project. Approximately 23,000 student teachers at ten Higher Education Institutions have benefited, with more than 80 lecturers delivering the project at 10 universities. Should all 23,000 student teachers take a position as a teacher, more than 766 schools would benefit from teachers trained in a social model of inclusive education. As this project is rolled out across the provinces, more schools will be influenced as more existing teachers are trained via continuous professional teacher development (CPTD).
“The evaluation shows encouraging outcomes of the Teaching for All project in terms of how it has impacted improving student-teacher inclusive education competencies and embedding inclusive education,” says Prof Sayed. “Student teachers reported that the materials used in their course and module offerings provided them with the necessary dispositions, knowledge, and skills to enact inclusive education in their classrooms as future teachers. The evaluation shows how the adaptative implementation strategy used for the project developed a collective sense of ownership, as well as creating a shared understanding of what inclusive education is and what implementing an inclusive education pedagogy entails.”
Importantly, Sayed says the Teaching for All Programme shows that successful education outcomes from any intervention require close attention to the policy implementation process. “Consultation, collaboration and capacity building are key ingredients to successful education reforms and this evaluation demonstrates the benefits of investing in such processes.”
Prof Sayed says the evaluation project has led to further positive outcomes. These include building the knowledge-base for evidence-informed inclusive education policy making and contributing to the research on inclusive education in South Africa, regionally and globally. The project has capacitated and incentivised lecturers to conduct further research, as well as developing research tools and techniques.
Dr. Granville Whittle, DDG of Social Inclusion at the Department of Basic Education says, “I am pleased that the programme has now been evaluated and that we can now take these lessons learnt and improve. The project brought together civil society, academia and government departments and the importance of collaboration in these kinds of endeavours cannot be underestimated. It’s this kind of collaboration that we need to encourage, not only in the education sector, but in our country.”
Professor Cyril Nhlanhla Mbatha, Director of the ISER, says education and skills development will remain a key focus area for the research institution. “The ISER aims to provide high quality research that informs policy and it is a great honour and responsibility to have been involved in this project. Education remains at the centre of both human and economic development efforts globally, and specifically in post-colonial countries, where teachers are the custodians of national development projects. Efforts to mainstream inclusive education are crucial for producing quality teachers, particularly in an environment where the COVID-19 crisis is driving rising inequalities and discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection. Projects like this can help close these gaps as we build an education system that is more equitable and inclusive. ”
Teaching for all YouTube Channel
About Teaching for All: https://www.britishcouncil.org.za/programmes/education/teaching-all
Launch Event recording:
‘Embedding Inclusive Education in Teacher Professional Development in South Africa: An evaluation of the impact of the Teaching for All project’
Facilitator: Malaika Mahlatsi
Best-selling author and activist; voted one of the most 50 Powerful Women in South Africa 2020 and Top 200 Young South Africans 2015 by the Mail & Guardian.
Keynote speaker: Professor Yusuf Sayed
University of Sussex, Honorary Professor at Rhodes Institute of Social and Economic Development, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
British Council South Africa
Dr Cina Mosito, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
Teaching for All is funded by the European Union in South Africa.
Participating universities included the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Nelson Mandela University, Rhodes University, Tshwane University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, University of Fort Hare, University of Limpopo, UNISA and University of the Western Cape.