The IDEA Research Unit has evolved from the university’s TEDI (Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion) project which was created in response to a call to address the exclusion and poor-quality education of children with disabilities in South Africa.
To promote the inclusion of disability in education at all levels, both formal and informal, in Africa and beyond, to ensure no-one is left behind in the pursuit of equitable quality education and lifelong learning
We aim to:
Provide expert, relevant and comprehensive research on disability inclusion in education in Africa, by focusing on the education and support of people with disabilities, their families and their communities within the context of inclusive educational systems.
Facilitate the development of appropriate and relevant curriculum frameworks for disability inclusion.
Develop and disseminate innovative face-to-face and online training in inclusive education for teachers, education officials, support workers, community stakeholders, therapists and others.
Conduct multi-faceted research pertinent to policy development and implementation in inclusive education, and explore the barriers and supports that people with disabilities experience in accessing meaningful education.
Stimulate dialogue and discussion regarding disability inclusion among all relevant stakeholders and networks.
Background (The TEDI Project: Where It All Began)
The Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion (TEDI) project was developed in response to a call to address the exclusion and poor-quality education of children with disabilities in South Africa.
The national prevalence rate of disability among school aged children is between 2.6% and 10.8%.
However, in 2012 it was estimated that approximately 600 000 learners with disabilities were not in school (Department of Basic Education [DBE], 2015) which is more than double the 280 000 estimated excluded learners in 2001 (Department of Education [DoE], 2001). The 2011 census indicates that persons with severe disabilities are the most disadvantaged when it comes to educational outcomes (Statistics South Africa [SSA], 2011). This exclusion from education is out of line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act no. 108 of 1996), and the goals of Education White Paper 6 (EWP6) (DoE, 2001). Furthermore, even for those learners who are in school, their learning and participation is not at all satisfactory with only 0,5% of all learners writing the National Senior Certificate in 2018 being recorded by the DBE as having special educational needs (DBE, 2018).
The project was therefore developed by the Disability Studies Division in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Cape Town in partnership with Christoffel-Blinden Mission (CBM) and co-funded by the European Union and CBM to address the exclusion and poor quality education of children with disabilities in South Africa.
In order to provide an empirical basis for our work, we conducted research studies resulting in the following reports:
Teacher education: An analysis of the availability of teacher education addressing the educational needs of learners with severe to profound sensory or intellectual impairments.
Starting where we are: Situational analysis of the educational needs of learners with severe to profound sensory or intellectual impairments in South Africa.
Perceptions of South African teachers on how they feel supported in teaching learners with special educational needs: Perspectives on Inclusive Education in South Africa and,
Educating and caring for children with profound intellectual disability: A manual for carers and teachers
The research conducted informed four courses in the following areas:
disability studies in education;
the education and care of learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities;
teaching learners who are blind or have low-vision; and
teaching learners who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
Drawing on the above-mentioned research into learner and teacher education needs, 5-day face-to face courses were developed for each of these focus areas, as well as complementary 4-5-week massive open online course (MOOC) have been developed. A total of 114 South African educators have participated in the face-to-face courses nationally, and over 8 000 people have participated in the MOOCs, to date. In the process, we have learned a great deal about disability inclusion in education.
In addition, TEDI has developed a network of stakeholders in the education of children with severe to profound disabilities with government departments, civil society and institutions of higher education.
The TEDI project came to an end in August 2020, and evolved into a new research unit IDEA at the University of Cape Town.