Cultural and environmental factors affecting transition of learners with physical disabilities from primary to secondary schools in Laikipia County, Kenya
Macharia, John M.
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ABSTRACT This study sought to determine cultural and environmental factors that affect transition rates of learners with physical disabilities from primary to secondary schools in Nyahururu Sub-County of Laikipia County, Kenya. A descriptive survey research design was used to the determine influence of environmental barriers, cultural factors, and teacher professional qualification on transition of these learners from primary to secondary schools. Also studied are school interventions to counter the barriers. Schlossberg theory of transition developed in 1981 was adopted for this study. The target population was 518. It comprised 18 learners with physical disabilities (PD), 65 teachers, 434 learners without disabilities and 1 Ministry of Education staff. Purposive sampling of schools was done since only schools with learners with PD were used in the study. Random sampling was used to select typical learners. The study was carried out in 6 schools (4 primary and 2 secondary) and involved a sample of 77 respondents. The sample included18 learners with PD, 38 learners without disabilities, 6 head teachers, 14 teachers, and an MoE Officer incharge of Special Needs Education (SNE) in the Sub-County. An interview schedule and questionnaires were used to collect data on cultural, environmental and teacher qualification factors influencing transition rates of these learners. A pilot study was carried out in two schools: Ngarearo and Bishop Loius Ngarenaro primary and secondary respectively. These schools had similar characteristics with those in the main study. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Both qualitative and quantitative techniques were used to analyze data. Qualitative data was derived from open-ended questions and an interview with the Sub-County SNE coordinator. Quantitative data was derived from closed-ended questions. Validity was done through expert advice from two special education lecturers. Test-retest method was used to test for reliability. The findings were presented through descriptive statistics by use of percentages, frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Data collected revealed that only 0.7% of learners with PD had transitioned to secondary schools over a period of seven years. Further, distance, congested classrooms, lack of individualized attention, teacher workload, lack of trained staff in SNE, unmodified school infrastructure and inaccessible facilities like toilets and some of the class rooms pose major environmental impediments to transition. Schools set performance culture, teacher preconceived performance expectations of learners with PD, parents and teachers attitudes, head teachers preference for placement of these learners in special schools, stereotypes of causes of disabilities provide an insight to some of the cultural factors affecting transition rates of learners with PD a gap that needs filling with regard to Nyahururu Sub-County. Key recommendations include: introduction of SNE curriculum in all teacher training institutions, in-servicing of regular schools teachers and inter-ministerial collaboration with stakeholders to ensure full inclusion and improved transition of learners with PD.