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South African Journal of Childhood Education (SAJCE) ; 12(1), 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2040088


Background: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) refers to the care and education of children from birth to age four. There is a scarcity of research on inclusion in this marginalised sector in many developing countries, including South Africa. Aim: This article reports on a virtual learning participatory workshop on understanding inclusion with six ECCE teachers and two ECD practitioner trainers. Setting: Due to the social distancing necessitated by the Corona Virus pandemic, all interactions were facilitated through the WhatsApp platform. Methods: The study employed a participatory action learning and action research (PALAR) design that focuses on collaborative and contextually relevant learning and research. Data were generated in two iterative cycles using a baseline questionnaire, photovoice, reflective journals and purposeful conversations. Results: Cycle one found that some of the participants’ understanding of inclusion needed to be challenged. Their understandings of inclusion centred on discourses of disability with a narrow view of inclusion. This action learning set (ALS) mainly regarded inclusion to be a product rather than a process and claimed that segregation had some advantages. Some of the members of the ALS also misconstrued inclusion for micro-exclusive practices of assimilation and integration. Cycle two was planned to address these misunderstandings. Cycle two revealed that becoming inclusive means revisiting dominant ideologies about inclusion and a critical awareness of micro-exclusive practices. Conclusion: This research serves to challenge dominant beliefs of what inclusion is. The knowledge presented here could be cascaded to other ECCE centres in the South African context. With a scarcity of research on inclusion in ECCE, this study may provide a point of departure for future research.