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Archaeology & Anthropology:Open Access

An Anthropological Perspective on Implementation Disengagements of Inclusive Education in Local Mainstream Schools

Mxolisi Gwala*

School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

*Corresponding author:Mxolisi Gwala, School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Submission: August 07, 2023Published: August 29, 2023

DOI: 10.31031/AAOA.2023.05.000618

ISSN: 2577-1949
Volume5 Issue1


The paper reports on the disengagements heard from parents who have children with cognitive learning disability and attending in local mainstream schools. The Ecological theory was adopted as powerhouse theory in this paper; the theory provided guide and structure to the scope and research ethnography that was undertaken in completion of this paper. The nature of the phenomenon of interest, the kind of questions, answers and analysis prompted the use of qualitative research design. There were sixteen questions that were prepared for data collection and were kept open-ended; parents had an opportunity to answer in personal interviews and as a collective in focus groups. Fifteen parents who had children living with cognitive learning disability were purposefully sampled and they spoke on challenges with inclusive education policy implementation in local schools. The findings consisted of ambivalent feedback about the implementation of inclusive education as a policy in support of children with cognitive disability. The paper highlighted identity, culture and ecological analysis as the key factors that sit consistently and influence implementation of the policy.

Keywords:Anthropology; Inclusive education; Cognitive disability; Ecological theory; Identity; Holism; Culture


Anthropology conducts ethnography to acknowledge that people come from a range of cultural and historical contexts that shape their lives. The reported disengagements in the implementation of the policy were linked to improper analysis of individual learner identity, culture and the overall ecological analysis where inclusive policy had to exist and operate. The anthropological stance of this paper is culturally sensitive to recognize that humans are social beings that come from a range of cultural and historical contexts that shape their lives [1]. In order to have a better consolidated inclusive education policy, there was a need to have an in-depth consideration and analysis of the features of these contexts as they determine the overall outlook of the policy. Although not being dismissive of the inclusive education policy, the argument of this paper echoes the words of [2] that the success of inclusive education policy remains dependent on careful analysis and consideration of all the aspects of the sociocultural environment it sits in. The research in anthropology is guided by the principle known as holism which urges any anthropological research to undertake phenomena of interests with high consideration of all facets that are presented in the case. Inclusive education is the context where anthropology and education find their meeting point; this paper opined that the two fields must always be consistent with each other in contemplation and consolidation of education policy and practice.


Contextualizing inclusive education and aims

Inclusive education is a result of global consultancy initiative to induce the culture of inclusion across all the features of schooling system around the world [3]. South Africa like many other countries of the world adopted and enacted inclusive education in all of its mainstream schools. This was in honor of the principles of both the Salamanca framework and the Dakar framework for action which appealed for inclusive education and education for all, in that respect [2]. As a traveling global policy, inclusive education has been lauded as a panacea for normalization of early development and drive to inclusive society in ordinary schools. In the book titled as contextualizing inclusive education: Evaluating old and new international paradigms, Mitchell [2] revealed that the passing and implementation of inclusive education policy followed after months and host of multidisciplinary experts and stakeholders meetings. This was to ensure feasibility of conditions for implementation, direct proper aims and targets for implementation ensure that all encompassing questions were asked and answers to them were provided prior implementation.

The initiative was envisioned to have a significant impact on schooling culture globally, especially in countries of the South where political injustices have marginalized rural schools and deterred local children’s right to education. In debating inclusion, UNICEF [4] stressed the statement of human rights and inclusive approach that would emphasize change in attitude towards diversity in schools by educating all school children together [3]. In the heart of this strong statement and planning was sensitivity towards value, love and recognition of the rights of children with disabilities. The added value was the prospect of increased social cohesion where school-children with disabilities are much less stigmatized and more socially included. Learners without disabilities could learn accommodation and acceptance of differences and respect for diversity; children with disabilities have access to reputable and accommodating school environment available in any local area..

The findings of this paper were indicative of that while inclusive education may have achieved certain feat in its operation, the problem that has troubled proper implementation in South African mainstream schools has been the disconnection between local schools and broader community culture. “Characterization, purpose and form of inclusive education reflect the relationships among the social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts that are present in any one time in a particular country and/or local authority”, [2]. The above quote summarizes the aspects and preconditions necessary for consideration in the enactment of inclusive education policy. The proper analyses of these sociocultural contexts appear to have been omitted prior implementation of inclusive education policy in the country, even in the aftermath of implementation. The quote provides that when these features and preconditions are properly assessed and taken to consideration prior implementation, consolidation of the policy may become less of a struggle to deal with in local communities.

An anthropological perspective on inclusive education

The central purpose for this paper was to demonstrate the value of holism in anthropological research when targeting findings and solutions to phenomena that host wide range of ecological considerations, which appeared to have been evaded in abundance of literature. Anthropological research does not only use methods that are fitting the nature of a phenomenon in question; but the discipline can also be trusted to in providing practice and training that is analytical of local community and stakeholders as actors and their interests, which the paper provided. McDermott & Varenne [5] argued this as enabling sight on multiple links in their individual differences and acknowledge diversity in community culture in order to provide appropriate solutions for betterment of their wellbeing. Inclusive education is a community course that is founded mostly on sensitivity of the issues of exclusion that affected the learning future and integration of children with disability in the schooling system [2]. Anthropology thrives in communal differences while providing methods that are adaptive to the nature of individual or community issue that are occurring. In this case, the problem that was found to be troubling local parents was a number of disengagements in inclusive education policy. This is the policy that was put in place and operates in all ordinary schools in South Africa to accommodate and support learning of all children of “school-going age” in mainstream schools despite their physical or mental conditions [2]. This paper purposefully projected ethnography to read emic responses of parents from their daily experiences of caring for children with cognitive disability.

The aim was to provide an opportunity to talk through all the other multitude of aspects regarding that may have evaded implementation of inclusive education. In diverse and multicultural schooling environment, anthropological ethnography carries with tools that enable an opportunity to obtain thick data, for instance, the practice of obtaining differing viewpoints from different stakeholders involved in the schooling system and in that particular culture [6]. This would include collecting data from educators, learners, governing bodies, and parents from a wide range of community backgrounds. From the voices of parents, it was gathered that issues with inclusive education support in rural mainstream schools were not only limited to the four walls of the classroom or school premises, but the boundaries pushed further to a myriad of personal, cultural and political complications. It was imperative to conduct this research in anthropology for the reasons that anthropology has an innate responsibility to human beings as social beings. The discipline explores the whole panorama of human experience and influence across time [2]; any problem that challenges well-being of humankind becomes subject matter for anthropology. In the same vein, inclusive education policy as a devised solution to help sensitize with harsh conditions of access and learning problems that challenge families of children with cognitive disability in societies could be made more appealing with anthropological knowledge.

Literature Review

Cognitive disability is multifaceted and complex. Some parents can read their children’s behavior and determine what they need to do to accept and choose what is ideal for their children’s intellectual growth. Other parents, on the opposing hand, struggle to concede and afford the necessary assistance for their children. The conclusion is that parental experiences with a cognitive disability will almost always be different and will remain a topic of interest to many parents, despite being in a variety of cultural settings; as well as in connection with a particular social influence [2]. The scholars who have familiarized learning ethnographies of people with disability in relation with their close environment include [7] who published The Bronfenbrenner ecological systems theory of human development, an article that intertwined human development and socialization in the view of the contexts of Bronfenbrenner’s theory. Others were Ettekal & Mahoney [8] who referenced the stages of the ecological theory designing activities to help positive development. Ben-David & Nel [9] responded with a publication that focused on applying Bronfen Brenner’s ecological model to identify the negative influences facing children with physical disabilities in rural areas. All the effort was made to acknowledge that people no matter what their identity is, they always come from a particular culture and are influenced by all cultural provisions although in different contexts.

Scholars such as Battles & Blount [10] and Reid-Cunningham [11] have contributed immensely regarding the conceptualization of disability in anthropology and consideration of anthropological perspective in curating assistance for an inclusive environment and support for learning disability. The discipline has been promoted as holistic in learning about human experiences and conditions such as disability which play effect and determine socialization of humankind in different contexts [11]. In the past life the discipline had difficulties in locating a firm place in studying the cognitive part of human society. This is believed to have led to fewer studies inquiring about types of disabilities and the impacts it has among human societies. Furthermore, cognitive anthropology as a distinctive area of interest is relatively new, as it could be dated back to the early 1960s [10]. Anthropology however has grown and recognized culture as an integral part of human life carried throughout the life-long development of humans. Anthropology has accepted disability as a human trait that impacts human societies and any social environment [12]. Children with disabilities are born to parents or families who are not independent of their culture as their relationships to each other and broader society is operative under cultural norms and beliefs, directly or indirectly. Sometimes such relationships and interactions are shaped by elements of culture. Willingham-Storr [13] studied the families of children with cognitive disabilities and found that they are frequently confronted with the responsibility of making and changing decisions on their children’s behalf [13]. As a result, parents have the most influence over their children’s development and future. Cognitive disability can be a permanent condition that causes a wide range of emotions. It is said that parents who have children with this type of disability gradually try to make adjustments to the demands of their social environment as well.

This research was approached with a holism approach of anthropology. Thwala et al. [14] cited a study by Gona, Mung’la- Odera, Newton & Hartley (2010) in Kenya which found that families with children with disabilities were left out of society due to lack of services and negative attitudes. The cited literature extended sentiments shared in the findings of this study. This is that caring for a child with a learning challenge prevented families from living an ordinary life while the lack of support slowly excluded them from their communities even without their awareness. Taderera & Hall [15] indicated that challenges faced by parents of children with a cognitive learning disability are exacerbated by factors such as community attitudes, cultural beliefs as well as institutional challenges. When the participants were asked to talk about the forms of support they received from various institutions that are in existence in their ecology, a majority of parents stated that isolation continued to prevail as there was no reported formal support in almost all of the communal entities.

Attending to the identified gaps in literature

The literature demonstrates that raising or giving birth to a child with any form of disability is often described as depressing and attracting various cultural scrutiny. A host of scholars contended that it presents a psychological challenge for most parents, such as anxiety and physical signs and symptoms of depression. Parents of disabled children put in more effort and devote more of their free time to meeting their children’s needs. Families are expected to use their private resources, including small salaries, to adapt to or take on new roles in meeting the unique desires of their children, particularly during their educational journey. As a result, the purpose of this research was to delve into the depths of such experiences to attempt a holistic inspection of challenges that prevail despite inclusive education policy. Within the inclusive policy in South Africa, there has been no attempt to educate the community on receiving and existence of the inclusive education policy which could create a supportive culture if done accordingly. This will include therapeutic services from education department, education of the general public, development of inclusive support committees that will exist in local areas and work closely with the teachers and broader educational stakeholders; all this for the purpose of consolidating the existing policy.

Theoretical Framework

Urie Bronfenbrenner developed the ecological theory in the late 1970s after studying the relationship between both man and the environment [7]. Bronfenbrenner demonstrated how an individual grows to be a fully-fledged citizen of the community by analyzing ideas attributed to definitions of ecology and socialization. According to the theory, the process of socialization in contexts, with the child sitting at the center of the circle, is based on Bronfenbrenner in the 1970s as presented by [7]. Like the ecological theory, paper found that challenges of disengagement in the inclusive education policy happened in different contexts. Interpreting these contexts of disengagement in the policy was arrived at with the assistance of ecological theory. Inside this anthropological perspective, the theoretical model converged in that the theory provided an understanding that social and cultural components form the whole shape of persons involved and that their interaction does not occur in isolation, rather in an integrative way.

The theory was relevant in this anthropological perspective because it sought holistic consideration of all aspects that are involved in development and socialization of persons. Anthropological research is concerned with learning about and comprehending humankind [11], which includes people’s daily lives and interactions with their surroundings, in order to better understand them and recommend responsive policies for change. This was the key theory that assisted in yielding small meanings of lived self/or community status of parents and their children with cognitive disability, and the moving socio-cultural environment. In the context of this topic of interest ecological theory aided in connecting individual learning to changes at the community and systemic levels [16]. This framework of integrated social-ecological systems provided such a lens that allowed this paper to examine education program as a part of a more complex system. Based on the theoretical point of view, there are four developmental stages that are associated with an individual’s experience of growth, namely the micro, meso, exo, and macro-systems Bronfenbrenner. These systems are thought to affect and shape unique identities as well as experiences, which in this particular case was the personal circumstances of parents of children with cognitive disabilities who attended mainstream schools, which made them to be affected by the inclusive education policy. The layout and definition of these stages were:
A. A child’s prospective and adoptive nature and direct interaction with their immediate environment comprise the micro-system, which may include psychological, social, and emotional support, parental support or ability to participate, and institutional involvement or participation.
B. The meso-system connects processes that occur in multiple microsystems, and it points out that school and families are the principal microsystems interacting with early life and organized out-of-school activities. It argues that coordination of activities across all settings is fundamental for better development.
C. The exo-system communicates micro-systems where individuals are involved but not directly embedded. At this stage influences from other people involved in one’s life is discussed such as parents’ encouragement of participation of their children in activities they have entrusted them for development.
D. The macro-system is the outermost system, defined as a set of underlying ideas, values, and norms reflected in society’s cultural, religious, and socioeconomic organization. This phase is thought to have an impact on future development in all other systems and serves as a filter for individuals to interpret future experiences [8].

The theory considered socialization to be a procedure of becoming a member of society while also providing an awareness of the phenomenon of education and the associated problems with it [7]. According to Ettekal & Mahoney [8], the experience of parents of children with cognitive barriers in learning is an omnipresent and persistent problem that requires contextual knowledge of ecological theory and consideration of each of its important developmental stages. Consideration of the theory’s details may aid education professionals in better understanding the unique challenges and proper responsive needs of the parents in their settings.

The Research Design and Ethical Consideration

Qualitative approach

The research paradigm underpinning this research called for the application of a qualitative approach to gather knowledge. This was due to the responsibility of the paper to uncover a series and depth of contexts in the implementation of inclusive education. Several more perspectives were suggested by the literature and theory when examining contexts where policy implementation concerns culture, and the process of education of children with disabilities, as such conditions are not left without vulnerability and public scrutiny in various sociocultural environments. The qualitative research design allowed for a flexible and reflective research project. The research topic required that the phenomenon of interest be studied in the field, as is customary in anthropological studies. It additionally needed to seek the designation of affected people to the affected community’s core in order to obtain wellinformed responses [17].

Data collection and method

Data was collected from parents of children with cognitive who attended mainstream schools in the rural place of UMkhambathini. There were two sessions of data collection that took place. The first session comprised of in-depth personal interviews with each of parent which was designed with the intention to gather personal experience on the implementation of the inclusive education policy. Data was gathered through life history interviews and recorded focus groups. In order to collect data, we conducted personal interviews with five participants from each school. As participants, the school and parents had graciously agreed to be invited back to complete the interviews, especially in cases where we ran out of time. After the personal interviews were completed, we began conducting recorded focus group interviews including all five parents per school, on the agreed-upon day and time. Personal interviews provided insightful aspects on family culture and identity while the aim of conducting focus group interviews was to listen to different perspectives, gather the depth of the problems and assess how parents related on one another on the experiences and that they faced and the suggested solutions that they would like to see in their environment.

Data analysis

Data was analyses through qualitative data analysis and made huge reference to the ecological theory’s stages of human development.

Sampling: Non-probability (Purposeful)

The population was carefully chosen on the basis that they would answer the questions correctly and were within the research parameters. The sample is a small but carefully selected group of people or objects that represent a larger group or the entire population under study. The primary goal of sampling is to infer unknown characteristics of the whole population from the known sample [18]. The article’s sampling procedure was non-probability and through purposeful sampling. This was because the present research had many parents, who could have participated, but the study was restricted to uMkhambathini and a specific number of participants (sample size). According to Palinkas et al. [19] this is the most effective method for implementation research and ensures consistency in the development of qualitative study methods. Parents were valued as important participants because their children had been enrolled in the public school system at uMkhambathini. Their purposeful recruitment was not influenced by their living arrangements. We understand that both sexes can take on the role of parenting, so we considered all genders as potential participants. Age was not an inclusion criterion because we assumed those who attended the first meeting were already parents of students with cognitive disabilities as the initial formal letter of invitation requested. Du-Plooy et al. [20] support the purposeful sample’s relevance in this research project because they agree that this form of sampling is used when researchers have a descriptive collection of features related to the desired data as was the case in this paper.

Ethical considerations

The University of KwaZulu-Natal authorized this investigation after carefully reviewing the research proposal, which included all provisions for feasibility. We felt it was critical to walk respondents through their rights because they voluntarily agreed to take part in the research. We also took the responsibility of informing participants that the article’s sole goal was to understand their experiences with the topic and that their perspectives were valuable and useful for all aspects of the research. Ethical issues were taken into account during data collection and analysis. As the principal investigators, it was our responsibility to ensure that participants were treated with dignity and that they were not subjected to feelings of shame or embarrassment. As long as we kept the question within the limits of the research, none of the participants expressed a desire to leave within the process of research. We also made certain that all fifteen (15) parents were formally invited to take part in the research by the educational leaders, and that they knowingly and willingly agreed to participate by signing a consent form for it and for recording which both provided option for nondisclosure of identity and comprehensive information about the topic of interest and why they would be needed.

Research limitations

Since this research project fell outside the scope of psychology but within the learning approach of anthropology, it relied on parents’ experiences and their journey of caring for children with cognitive disabilities. we also had no intention of imposing scientific models for diagnosis, and children were not included in the data collection. Furthermore, UM khambathini is largely rural community, and this study was limited to three rural areas within uMkhambathini: Inkanyezini, iMbungwini, and Ingangezwe. These are the communities in which the schools were located, and they are representative of the surrounding communities. This formed limits as children would not voice out their personal feelings and the scope of this paper evaded experiences of many other rural places that might be experiencing similar policy challenges.

Data Analysis

Deciphering disengagements in the policy as reported by parents

The ecological theory was instrumental in connecting the key contexts in which the inclusive education policy existed in. Parents responded on the interview and focus group questions that were designed in accordance with the stages of the ecological theory. This paper’s anthropological stance was sensitive to cultural differences in that it recognized that humans are social beings who are influenced by an array of historical and cultural circumstances that influence how they behaved [1]. It was in this manner that the paper arrived at deciphering the key features of the social environment that troubled parents yet solutions for are not properly integrated in the implementation of the policy. The challenges were experienced due to personal identity of parents and their children, immediate culture and the overall ecological analysis where all individuals and environmental systems meet.

Disengagement in support of identity

The objective of this research was not to learn about the experiences of children with cognitive disabilities. The initial observation prior to undertaking research on the topic was that children with cognitive disability were excluded in the schooling system in rural communities of UM khambathini where the research was conducted. This research was interested in the integration of disability into social realities, particularly in caring for and nurturing children with disability identities. This was evaluated through the eyes of parents who shared their experiences for the purpose of the research. Reid-Cunningham [11] demonstrated that anthropologists who have published on the topic of disability such as Robert Murphy have described disabled people as restricted people because their mental conditions or bodies prevent them from acquiring self-reliance, independence, and non-public independency, and they identify as socially marginalized. He went on to say that individuals who have disabilities are now treated as objects of desperate care rather than as whole human beings who must be trusted with opportunities to improve their lives [11]. Anthropologists are drawn to disability due to its being a culturally and socially formed category with significant implications for how societies distribute power differentially [21]. The discipline of anthropology had accepted disability as a condition that is inevitable in human existence and will always continue to challenge any individual that is identified with the condition and those around their immediate socialization.

In deciphering the challenge with identity, the paper adopted a definition from [5] in a publication titled Culture “as” disability. The definition details that “Common sense allows that persons unable to handle a difficult problem can be labelled “disabled”, [5]. The quote provides that building inclusive support of learning disability in a schooling system must first make provisions for enabling to target and accommodate the kind of learning challenge. This is because parents have reported the achievement of integration as only being nearer to the recognition and promotion of access to school for children living with disability and normalizing of disability as identity without necessarily trying to find ways to teach in accordance with demands of a particular form of disability. School is primarily designed for education; the process of teaching and learning becomes an everyday culture and children are constantly expected to deal with processing of complex tasks. When enabling assistance is not provided, the schooling process becomes inadaptable and exclusive [14]. Parents’ ethnography provides a place start in commitment to consolidate proper implementation that is concerned with identity of a child in inclusive education. Culturally, Parents are constantly involved in rising and socialization of their children, which impacts the development of the child’s character and is responsible for shaping the child’s cognitive and linguistic perceptions; they inherit and live the identity of their children.

In the process of parenting, parents try to promote and support child’s physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development from early childhood to adulthood [11]. Parents find and master the template for developmental tasks of their children, including that of managing their progressive learning from early age. In essence, for policymakers in support of learning disability to realize inclusion beyond integration, parents’ ethnographies must be placed at the center of planning to represent challenges with disability and how they have tried to accommodate the challenges prior school enrolment. In this way they can learn that there are no fixed solutions for challenges associated with disability identity, but the process is naturally a trial and error and one that requires constant checks and balances as parents attempt in their personal space. This will make certain room for relevant and necessary adjustments in policy overtime; and implement many changes from the feedback that parents offer on their journey of caring for children with cognitive disabilities.

Disengagement in support of culture

Inclusive education connects schooling system to community culture [2]. An instinctive anthropological perspective on inclusive education policy is that for the policy to be self-adhesive on its implementation it had to find coherence in a specific culture [5]. Culture is always caught in two ways; that is negative and positive or inclusive and exclusive despite the concept spanning and influenced by a multitude of beliefs systems and constructions, organizations, norms and traditions, complexities and diversities. Over and above the two ways of culture, there are knowledge tools that are devised for mitigation in cultural differences; although they may soon be perceived as form of culture or subculture of some sort, depending on design and operation. The inclusive education policy is classical example of a devised knowledge tool that is devised to provide for access and learning needs of children with disability in schools [3].

Children living with cognitive disability were previously excluded in their communities as they were deemed as not meeting the standards the existing culture, the plague followed even in communal structural access and participation such as schools [3]. However, this is not to say that inclusive education policy had to be on either side of culture, but a takeaway argument built from the above sentiments and cultural definition was that the practitioner in education especially those who are responsible for making policy in support of inclusive education had a role to play in preparing communities for the reception and implementation of the policy. While having a child with cognitive disability has remained a taboo for the longest time among most rural communities, inclusive education too has not been culturally sensitive in implementation. Anthropological ethnographic research has shown that parenting confers a social or symbolic identity, position, and status over one’s children [11]. This would be for the purpose of cognizance and normalization of the new feature of their culture that will affect them directly and permanently. Some parents have been reluctant on enrolling their children into mainstream schools because they were not consulted and have no knowledge of the operating policy. For some parents, reluctance was due to a negative notion that the policy was just imposed on them by some people who believed and assumed that their children are “crazy” or “incapable”.

These negative assumptions and mistrusts arise from the fact that people with disability are always questioned, ill-treated and not supported by their partners, families, friends and other societal structures such as churches, schools and health institutions [12]. This informs policymakers of the level of message driving that they should embark on when planting culturally sensitive policy in communities, if the intention is to see the policy materializing. Reid-Cunningham [11] further explained that anthropologists have always been keen on researching people with disabilities as they are regarded as the “other,” which separates them from people who are not considered to be disabled in one community. This acts presents knowledge of what is not known about others to make their way of living or conditions familiar so to achieve unity or accommodation to the least. McDermott & Varenne [5] argued that it was always easy to concede existence of differences and focus on the ultimate goal when culture is understood as knowledge that people need to live together in harmony. The two scholars added that cultural coherence is not a product of all members singing in one tune or knowing the same things, but cultural coherence is derived from partial but mutually dependent knowledge of each other in the system and the prospect of what could be achieved in working together [5].

Disengagement in ecological analysis

At this stage, all functions and dysfunctions of all smaller features of the cultural systems are reflected in their entirety by Bronfenbrenner’s mesosystem. The inequalities of the past were entrenched in societies and created certain racial disparities which haunt rural communities to this date [22]. After the democratic election of 1994 in the country, there was a huge call for policy change, and each policy needed to be specific of community atrocity that it tries to target and amend. According to ecological analysis, anyone in a single culture can be subjected to labeling and exclusion. Being labeled frequently elicits widespread attention that exacerbates the obstacles experienced by people with disability [5]. The implementation of inclusive education policy was driven into community schools with the objective of alleviating exclusion issues thereby encouraging greater cultural coherence. As children living with disabilities were faced with challenges of schooling access and education that is responsive to their needs. The policy that is developed, by common sense, it had to provide for those needs and direct means to achieve those goals in community areas where the policy is to be implemented [2]. However, the progressive inconsistencies of the inclusive education policy with the target identities and community culture have deemed the policy as disorienting.

The South African education system needs holistic planning of programs that will include ecological data collection in all cultural contexts, such as citizen ethnography, which can address the critical needs and needs to monitor environmental dynamics in all features of the larger system. This will assist with real-time reports to establish key stakeholder, managerial, or cultural initiative that is being sought after or dysfunctional. Placing holism in the center of planning would have informed the policy makers of knowledge of competing theoretical perspectives and community dynamics where the policy is to exist [23]. Knowledge of these community differences would also inform policy makers of the multiple community programs and key areas to impact in particular community to support the policy as a culture. The meaning of this statement is that the introduction of inclusive education policy would have been a new transition that is introduced and would not only affect parents and children with disabilities but would become a new cultural feature that will affect the whole of the socio-cultural environment. The inclusive education policy is a system capable of initiating and maintaining important educational and cultural functions; instances of improper representation and implementation present the faces of culturally caused disturbances as well as those of decision-makers’- makers’ poor decisionmaking. Nonetheless, the policy can be rebuilt in the direction of the provided order of the contexts of ecological theory.


The integration of ecological theory and anthropological research methods placed the study in the world of parents raising children with cognitive learning. Parents’ experiences revealed that their socialization was severely compromised by constructed identity formation and societal stereotyping associated with their children’s identities. As parents reported, the reasons for disengagements in inclusive education policy meant some degree of blindside in the planning and implementation of the policy. The policy seems to have had key focus on mere inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream schools; this was in the sense of integration and increased access to schooling especially in the absence of special schools in the many of the rural communities. Despite this being another important feat that was achieved by the policy, still much of recognition of diversity and theoretical perspectives appear to have been disregarded in the policy implementation is South African schools. The holistic approach within an anthropological perspective is diverse enough to consider the policy as a culture which lacked in the implementation [23].

In essence, the element of holism in anthropology would consider that humans are of certain identities as individuals and that human development is influenced by different types of environmental interactions which policy makers in education may have been informed of prior to making operative provisions of the inclusive education file. Another aspect of inclusive education that has contributed to its challenges of implementation is that the policy does not clearly provide for distinctions of special needs and inclusive education which has always remained a depressing question for parents in the rural schools [2]. This is caused largely by the blurring standing position of the policy on the culture it represents or knowledge it aims to inform communities of. The initiative must be direct on whether it stands for integrated and caring society only or if this White Paper was designed to transform the South African educational system by building an integrated system for all learners, which will include all-inclusive support for special and ordinary learning [18]; provide and emphasize curriculum would translate flexibility and suitability to the needs and abilities of all children to suite the essence of schooling. The challenges that are confronting parents together with children with disabilities encompass socio-cultural economies which speaks to unaffordability of choice of education and additional costs; in the same vein parents do not have a choice to do otherwise where a child is found to be struggling with mainstream education due to the learning challenge, and the fact that there are no alternative schools in the local area which end up result in exclusion despite the efforts of the policy.


South Africa has tried to adopt a variety of interventions to curb social ills which were presented by the past era of apartheid in the country. Inclusion in the education system was made a priority as such action would help alleviate the stresses of early development, institutional and social access which had been a major challenge, and mostly violation of the right to education for children with disabilities. The inclusive education policy was built and implanted in all local schools in the country as a device to mitigate in issues of learning needs and inclusion of children with disabilities. However, social exclusion and devaluation of people with disability continues to persist; the present paper viewed this persistence of problems as caused by negligent of cultural provisions and contexts of socialization where the policy exists. The operative principle of holism that guides anthropological research have grown to play a significant role in understanding disability in social and cultural contexts to learn about the depth of experiences in these natural settings. Hence, the undertaking of this research project with the aim of developing an adequate and reflective anthropological prototype to be used by educational policy makers in designing inclusive support for parents who care and raise children with cognitive disability [24-26]. The problems associated with disability have been presented as multi-dimensional and as constituting of a multitude of contexts to be considered and integrated within an inclusive policy to serve the purpose beyond mere inclusion.


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