Influence of teachers’ preparedness in meeting educational requirements of children with special needs in regular pre-schools in Tharaka South Sub-County
Gatuura, Doris Festus
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The main problem addressed in this research was whether the pre-school teachers were adequately prepared to meet the educational requirements of learners with special needs in regular pre-schools. This gap further formed the main purpose of this study, establishing whether or not the pre-school teachers were prepared in meeting the educational requirements of children with special needs in regular pre-school classrooms, with a view to mitigate the deficits surrounding them. The study objectives were: to identify the number of children with special needs, describe the categories of children with special needs and to indicate teachers’ preparedness in relation to competence regarding training and experience in teaching these children. In addition, the study sought to find out pre-school teachers’ preparedness in: identification/use of appropriate instructional strategies for teaching children with special needs; provision of appropriate educational resources for use; assessing learning performance of SNE children and attitude towards provision of emotional support to children with special needs in public pre-schools in Tharaka South Sub-county as guided by Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983). The descriptive research design was employed using the Survey method. All public pre-schools and pre-school teachers in Tharaka South Sub-county were targeted for study. Random sampling technique was employed to select a sample size of 31 (30%) pre-schools while a similar number of teachers were purposively selected. However, where a pre-school had more than one pre-school teacher, random sampling technique was employed to select one out of those present. Data from the teachers was collected using questionnaires and an observation guide for direct scrutiny of variables related to teachers’ preparedness. A pilot study was carried out in two pre-schools to help establish the reliability and validity of the instruments. Validity of instruments was ensured by ascertaining that information obtained related to the study objectives while their reliability was tested using the split half technique at 0.75 coefficient. Data analysis was done using qualitative and quantitative methods and inferential data tested using Chi square to determine if there was a significant relationship between the variables under scrutiny. The findings revealed that there were learners with special needs in pre-school in Tharaka South Sub-county. However, most pre-school teachers were inadequately prepared to meet the educational needs of these learners. Majority of the teachers (61%) had only acquired a minimum certificate course in ECDE teacher training, which was inadequate in equipping teachers with the requisite knowledge and skills to handle this cadre of learners. The researcher’s main recommendation was for the teachers to further their studies in order to enhance their skills and knowledge on how to meet the educational requirements of learners with special needs.