Factors Influencing Instructions Among Intellectually Challenged Learners in Special Units in Maara District, Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya
The purpose of the study was to find out factors influencing instructions among intellectually challenged learners in special units in Maara district, Tharaka Nithi County. The study employed a descriptive survey design. Target population of the study included 150 pupils and 15 teachers from the 9 special units in Maara district. Census sampling was used to pick all the 9 schools with special units for learners who are mentally challenged. From each of the 9 schools, 9 teachers were randomly selected while 30 parents of learners with mental retardation were selected using purposive sampling. The study participants therefore comprised of 9 teachers, 30 parents and 1 County Director of Education, yielding a total of 40 respondents. A questionnaire designed for teachers, an interview schedule for parents and one for the County Director of Education were used as the main tools for data collection. The study gathered both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data collected was coded and entered into SPSS programme version 17.0 for analysis. Descriptive statistics used included mean scores, standard deviations, frequencies and percentage. These descriptive statistics were used to describe teacher and parent factors influencing learners who are intellectually challenged, learning of learners who are intellectually challenged, teaching methods and respondent views regarding learning of learners who are intellectually challenged. Qualitative data was analyzed by coding responses to the interviews according to emerging themes and reporting the findings in accordance with research objectives. The study established that negative attitude among the school community was one of the major factors influencing teaching and learning among learners who are intellectually challenged in Maara district. The major factors which led to development of negative attitude were mainly parental preference of the school, parental feelings about the child, parental attitude towards teachers, teachers’ willingness to accept learners who are intellectually challenged and teachers’ attitude toward inclusion of learners who are intellectually challenged in regular classrooms. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education through Teachers Service Commission should ensure that teachers in special schools are adequately equipped with skills to handle all cases of disability; the ministry should also organize regular in-service training for all educators to improve their knowledge about ways of accepting and practicing inclusion of learners with disabilities in regular classes; in addition, parents and teachers should develop a positive attitude towards learners with disabilities.