“It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations.” (Mandela, 2006). South Africa has advanced drastically in terms of education. Education being the stepping stone of success encouraged the recent changes in the South Africas education system as it recently enforced an inclusive educational policy, SIAS since 2014. With the diversity of people in our rainbow nation, we are open to a diverse variety of students, we get gifted students, students who require special attention or even have physical disabilities, these hinder their ability to learn in a normal classroom setting, these are known as learning barriers.
Therefore the education system is focusing on identifying special needs and finding ways to accommodate all students in the most comfortable manner, moving towards an education system caters for all learning barriers whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Learning Barriers.
Intrinsic barriers are learning impediments that develop within the learner.
These depend on the learners mental capability, their personal beliefs, emotional sensitivity, self-esteem, attitudes, neurological problems example autism, physical disabilities and their general life experiences that will impact the way the interpret information or their concentration.
Extrinsic learning barriers are factors that affect students learning experience externally, depending on the learners surroundings. Examples of these barriers are the lack of school facilities such as elevators, wheelchair ramps that are aids for physically disabled learners, the differing cultures and belief systems and an inflexible curriculum used in the school. The classroom setting and form of interaction may also pose as an obstacle if it is not inclusive.
Extrinsic and Intrinsic learning barriers:
Neurological conditions are intrinsic barriers which affect the learner’s brain, nerves or even the spine of their body. These are intrinsic as it forms within the learner, due to various reasons such as genetic disorders, infections, lifestyle problems such as malnutrition, brain injury, spinal cord injury or nerve injury. There are numerous diseases which occur from neurological damage, a few common ones are Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which creates a lack of attention, hyperactivity and a poor memory. Brain/Spinal tumours may affect the function of the surrounding nerves and limbs that can result in constant discomfort or even partial paralysis which may even lead to wheelchair bound patients. Dyslexia is a learning disability that hinders writing abilities and creates confusion when reading and spelling.
This is an intrinsic barrier as it affects a person’s senses such as sight, learners can develop poor eyesight due to genetic disorders, trauma or infections, this may affect their light sensitivity or colour recognition, loss of partial sight or complete loss of vision making the individual blind. It regards to loss of hearing that’s often be caused through pressure to the ear, damage to the ear bone or nerve and ear infections, this can cause partial or complete loss of hearing. Another type is the difficulty in processing senses of touch, sound and movement and this may cause sensory differences which occur when the senses of the individual may be too sensitive or under sensitive, the child can also experience both at different time spaces.
Poverty is an extrinsic barrier that affects the learner externally through his/hers living conditions. Poverty would affect the basic health needs of the learner creating concerning health conditions, it affects the learners access to necessary resources especially of the learner requires visual/hearing aids or support for disabilities. Learners may also lack stationary and may not necessarily have food everyday depending on the severity of the issue. It also has an impact on the beliefs, ideologies and how the learner interprets information.
The curriculum of a school is one of the most common learning barriers, it affects the learning process in many ways. One of the major factors is the language of instruction, in many schools you get learners with different home languages but one sole medium of instruction. The teaching content and style requirements stand as a factor. The assessment criteria are unaccommodating as it follows a set criterion that cannot be altered. Another factor is that most schools offer a selected choice of subjects or already made course packages as per the curriculum. The curriculum is also mainly focused on academics.
The Effect of the above Intrinsic and Extrinsic Barriers on Learning.
This would affect the learners learning capability in various ways, students with ADHD may find it hard to recap and pay attention in the classroom, dyslexic and down syndrome learners may learn at a slower rate and often face confusion, embarrassment and displacement in a school full of fit and able learners. Learners with neurological conditions show signs of poor development of cognitive skills such as memory skills (Batsche, as cited by Zwane, Malale, 2018). This can cause them to withdraw in isolation. It also affects critical thinking and comprehension skills whereas spinal injury patients may face physical changes, pain or even physical disabilities in which they will require aids to assist them such as wheelchairs, etc a lack of these accommodation for these learners from the school can result in embarrassment and a feeling of unwantedness to the learner. This will also put the learner in an uncomfortable position in the classroom in terms of being different from peers. Disabled learners go through isolation in ordinary schools as these students often have to depend on others or have to move away from the latter and closer to the board or teacher to be assisted. These learners can feel alienated and lose motivation towards learning.
Learners with sensory differences can also have anxiety and panic attacks if they are overwhelmed with not understanding the content if it is not taught in accordance with their special needs. They require a permanent classroom setting where objects aren’t moved. Learners who are visually impaired often have a limited understanding of words compared to other able learners and require special time and effort that they would not receive in a class full of able learners.
Visually impaired learners are limited in loss of experience, loss of ability to move around freely and loss of control of the environment in relation with the self (Lowenfeld, as cited by Willings, 2017) This affects the output as well interactivity of the learner if they are not dealt with according to their impairments.
Unlike well sighted learners, syntax and grammar is much more difficult for a learner who is visually impaired or has partial hearing, according to Burlingham (1972). Learners with intrinsic impairments like these can place pressure on the teacher and learner in mainstream classrooms/schools. (Mahlo, 2011)
Learners who fall victim to poverty experience various difficulties in ways such as they may not have resources or stationary to complete homework or assignments, many may not even afford electricity. This can create a very narrow portal between the student and world information, their knowledge will affect the way they view topics in school especially political or sensitive issues. Students in poverty may not always be able to access good health care or sanitation, this can lead to an outbreak of illnesses and also divert the learners attention from school to his/her health. If the learner requires hearing aids, spectacles, wheelchairs or any other disability aids but cannot afford it, it will affect their comprehension and contribution skills. If parents cannot afford the school fees and have a disabled child and other abled children, they may choose to send the other fit children to school to save on cost. (Donohue, Bornman 2014; 34(2))
These students may suffer from malnutrition or hunger which will decrease their concentration in the classroom, reducing their contribution during the lesson. The self-esteem of the learner can also affect their studies in terms that the learner begins to believe beforehand that he/she is disadvantaged compared to their peers and automatically lose interest in their work.
The curriculum requires a single medium of instruction, this can offer result to learners of other home languages to get confused or misinterpret information. The required teaching style is usually rigid and can hinder creative teaching techniques. Learners who are gifted are not considered. Assessment criteria affects learners with barriers as they aren’t able to grasp content like others but are required to be assessed the same way as everyone regardless of their learning barriers.
The curriculum requires a set of subjects to be taught that are regarded as higher priority and schools create subject choices with selected subjects only limiting the choices of learners as they have to settle for whatever or simple look elsewhere in different schools. It also focuses more on academics and less on the preferences and needs of special learners or learners with barriers. A rigid curriculum can often lead to a learning breakdown (Motitswe, as cited by Zwane, Malale, 2018)
The implications of this for education within the South African context.
As mentioned earlier, South Africa is a diverse nation, with the variety a variety of people, the country is exposed to various beliefs, cultures, languages, etc. therefore, I am able to conclude that it is essential for the education system to implement inclusive learning and take action in securing full support of learners with learning barriers.
Study on the barriers above show astounding results. In a disability census carried out in 2011, 17.5% of the youth ages 5 to 19 are unfortunately disabled. (Census 2011: Profile of persons with disabilities in South Africa, Report 03-01-59) According to fin24 News, “Poverty Trends Report for 2006 to 2015, 30.4 million people (55.5% of the population) is living in poverty”, according to the DBE in statistics of 2015, the dropout rate for S.A is now a national crisis reaching a shocking amount of 60%. Only 50% of learners enrol by matric. (Department of Basic Education, Republic of South Africa, 2015).
There is a large number of learners that feel demotivated towards education.
The language barrier in schools are a major concern that is linked with the inflexible curriculum whereby learners are given a limited choice in subjects that does not cater for everyone, at times this is largely dependent on whether the school has the trained teachers for each subject and what is prioritised by the curriculum, in this case schools need to create a variety of choice for their variety of learners.
Educators need to be trained, according to Wienand (2011), when a learner with intrinsic barriers feel comfortable and motivated by their teacher, with a sense of support, these learners can develop a stronger self-esteem and drive. There is a need for educator assistants or special needs assistants to assist educators and offer learners extra attention with accommodating those who have learning barriers. Teachers need to be motivated to teach out of the box at times and use creative or different methods to get through to all types of learners.
An inclusive classroom consists of a school system that works impeccably to satisfy the special needs or preferences of learners rather than vice versa, it is a system that works towards motivating and allowing learners to excel in their own unique preferences.
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It is not beyond our power to create a world in which. (2019, Dec 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/it-is-not-beyond-our-power-to-create-a-world-in-which-example-essay