Under the banner of the EU-funded Teaching and Learning for Inclusive Education project, VVOB and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Faculty of Education hosted the 2018 National Symposium for Teacher Education for Inclusion (10-12th of July at the Emerald Conference Centre). This year we also joined forces with the Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion (TEDI) extending the traditionally 2-day symposium with an extra day. This Symposium is part of a sequence of Symposia to be hosted from 2017-2019 (and beyond under the VVOB programme). The aim of these symposia is to create a platform for teacher educators, practitioners, researchers and policy makers to get together to present, share and discuss improved teacher development for Inclusive Education. An underlying premise of the symposium is a shared passion for educational justice and recognition that teacher education is crucial in achieving an equitable and inclusive education system. The platform offers the opportunity to challenge exclusionary practices and replacing them with pedagogies that are inclusive and address learner diversity.
Local Knowledge and solutions
Proceedings focused on local knowledge and solutions and did not include international guest speakers. Dr. Moses Simelane, Director of Inclusive Education at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) created the context with a presentation on the current focus of the department. He concluded with the reminder that the National Development Plan (NDP) commands partners in the education system to work together to ensure differentiated pathways to high quality learning opportunities for all.
Twenty-six abstracts were presented in four break-away sessions under the themes:
Collaboration, Diversity and Responsiveness and Teacher Education. The abstracts presented grounded the discussions in solid theoretical frameworks, but also allowed for reflection on practice to support quality teaching for all.
Interactive round table sessions – practice oriented
To make the conference more interactive and ensure connecting theory and practice, a first interactive round table session was hosted. Practitioners were invited to share practical experiences from the classroom and field while allowing for engagement with delegates. We are proud to report that four of the ten roundtables were presented by teachers supported under VVOB programmes.
The Symposium also presented a platform for the projects to share experiences from the field. Progress and best practices were shared by the Universities, by IESA on the Induction programme for new teachers and by VVOB on the PLC pilot.
Key to the success of the event was the focus on offering networking opportunities for delegates to share ideas and stories while building lasting supportive partnerships in the field of inclusive education. An evening networking event hosted the book launch of a local publication ‘Teacher Education for Diversity: Conversations from the Global South’ by Elizabeth Walton and Ruksana Osman. IESA took this opportunity to launch their quarterly inclusive education periodical.