Open Journal Systems

Inclusive educational practices: Psychological challenges in South Africa

Sumeshni Govender

Article ID: 2522
Vol 9, Issue 7, 2024, Article identifier:

VIEWS - 0 (Abstract) 0 (PDF)


This study examines the specific challenges faced by practitioners in the field of psychology directly related to inclusive educational practices in South Africa. Intern psychologist, psychologists, psychometrist and other practitioners in the field of mental health provide crucial support to the Department of Basic Education in terms of Inclusive Education. These practitioners are situated in various fields for example, within Government Departments (Health, Education, Social Development, etcetera), private practice and Non-Government Organisations or Community-Based Organisations. The practitioners usually work within a multi-collaborative framework and often from a multi-systemic perspective to provide support to a network of colleagues and teachers, parents and learners who require intervention at schools within an inclusive education environment. A group of mental health practitioners who worked directly in inclusive educational practices (non-probability - purposive sampling), in a variety of sectors, were interviewed to determine the challenges they faced related to inclusive educational practices in South Africa. A variety of practitioners (n = 5) from each group of participants were approached (psychologists, intern psychologists, social workers) and interviewed. The total number of participants is n = 20. The participants completed a consent form, offered complete anonymity and confidentiality if they so desire and provide consent to complete the questionnaire. All institutional ethical procedures were followed. The findings revealed that South African practitioners in the field of psychology who worked directly in inclusive educational practices experienced challenges, and these are sometimes based on the setting in which they practiced. The study provided possible recommendations that may be implemented.


mental health practitioners; psychologist; inclusive education; special needs education; interventions

Full Text:



1. United Nations. The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Education. Retrieved from:

2. Docrat S, Besada D, Cleary S, Daviaud E, et al. Mental Health System Costs, Resources and Constraints in South Africa: A National Survey. Health Policy and Planning. 2019; 34(9): 706-719. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czz085. PMID: 31544948; PMCID: PMC6880339.

3. United Nations. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 2006. Retrieved from:

4. Human Rights Watch. South Africa: Children with Disabilities Shortchanged. Adopt Free, Inclusive Education for All. 2019. Retrieved from:, majority%20of%20children%20with%20disabilities.

5. Pillay J, Challenges Educational Psychologists Face Working with Vulnerable Children in Africa: Integration of theory and practice. In: Corcoran T, (editor). Psychology in Education. BRILL; 2014. pp. 95-111. Retrieved from:

6. Teichmann, C. Mental Health for All Is Not a Reality in South Africa. Mail and Guardian. 2022. Retrieved from:

7. Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Guidance to Prepare for the National Board Examination for Educational Psychology. 2020. Pretoria: HPCSA.

8. EPASSA. The Educational Psychology Association of South Africa. 2021, October 2. Incorrect Statements Regarding “Scope of Practice”. Retrieved from:

9. Cowen, S. Educational psychologists, Rule 21 and scope of practice. OPINION. 2020, May 6. Retrieved from:

10. Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Professional Board for Psychology. Scope of Practice Guidelines for Educational Psychologists. 2017, January. Retrieved from:

11. Mohangi K, Berger M, Inclusive Education and Educational Psychology: Forging Alliances for Support of Inclusion at School Level in South Africa. Journal of Educational Studies. 2015; 14(1): 67-85.

12. Berger M. The Role of Educational Psychologists in Supporting Inclusion at School Level. [Masters Thesis. Master of Education (Educational Psychology)]. University of Pretoria; 2013. Retrieved from: file:///F:/ARTICLES%20RESEARCH%20ETC/ARTICLES%20PUBLICATION%20ETC/ARTICLES%20FOR%20PUBLICATION/2023/PSYCHOLOGY/PSYCH%20IN%20SA%20AND%20IE%202022/ARTICLES/Berger_Role%20OF%20PSYCH%20IN%20IE.pdf

13. Engelbrecht P, Inclusive Psychology and Social Transformation. Responding to the Challenges of the New South Africa. In: Hick P, Kershner R, Farrell PT, (editors). Psychology for Inclusive Education. New Directions in Theory and Practice. Routledge: New York; 2009, pp. 108-116.

14. Kumar PA, A changing role? Educational psychologists in South Africa: Two Decades beyond Democracy. [Master in Education - Educational Psychology]. University of the Witwatersrand; 2017.

15. Rottaro S, Exploring Collaboration between Psychologists and Learning Support Teachers During the Sias Process [Master’s in Education: Educational Psychology]. University of Stellenbosch; 2022. Retrieved from: file:///F:/ARTICLES%20RESEARCH%20ETC/ARTICLES%20PUBLICATION%20ETC/ARTICLES%20FOR%20PUBLICATION/2023/PSYCHOLOGY/PSYCH%20IN%20SA%20AND%20IE%202022/ARTICLES/rottaro_exploring_2022%20diss%20psych%20and%20ie%20sa.pdf

16. Department of Education (DoE). National Strategy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support. Department of Education: Tshwane. 2008. Retrieved from:

17. Nel M, Engelbrecht P, Nel N, et al. South African Teachers' Views of Collaboration Within an Inclusive Education System. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 2014; 18(9): 903-917. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2013.858779.

18. Rapp AC, Corral-Granados A, Understanding Inclusive Education–A Theoretical Contribution from System Theory and The Constructionist Perspective. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 2021; Retrieved from:

19. Bhardwaj P. Types of Sampling in Research. Journal of the Practice of Cardiovascular Sciences 2019; 5: 157-63. DOI: 10.4103/jpcs.jpcs_62_19.

20. Javadi M, Zarea K, Understanding Thematic Analysis and its Pitfall. Journal of Client Care 2016; 1(1): 34-40. DOI: 10.15412/J.JCC.02010107.

21. Golafshani N, Understanding Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research. The Qualitative Report 2003; 8(4):597-606. DOI 10.46743/2160-3715/2003.1870.

22. Stahl NA, King JR, Expanding Approaches for Research: Understanding and Using Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research. Journal of Developmental Education 2020; 44(1); 26-28.

23. Joubert C, Purely Policy? Educators’ experiences and observations of inclusive education in Pietermaritzburg schools. [Masters Thesis. Master of Social Science (Educational Psychology)]. University of KwaZulu-Natal; 2021.

(0 Abstract Views, 0 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2024 sumeshni govender

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.