Educational Stakeholders’ Perceptions on Inclusion of Learners with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders in Regular Primary Schools, Chiwoko Zone, Lilongwe, Malawi
Madalitso, Esmie Mikuyu
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This study aimed at investigating how educational stakeholders‘ view the inclusion of learners with EBD in the regular primary schools in Chiwoko zone, Lilongwe district, Malawi. The study objectives were to examine the perceptions of head teachers, regular teachers and parents on the inclusion of learners with EBD in regular primary schools. It was also to investigate the perceptions of learners on the inclusion of peers with EBD in regular primary schools. Based on the theoretical construct of Weiner and Weiner (2016), an attribution theory of Achievement, Motivation and Emotion was the study developed. A mixed-method approach using an explanatory sequential design was used to examine the quantitative and qualitative data collected from head teachers, teachers, learners, and parents. The study targeted 514 education stakeholders where five head teachers and 20 parents were sampled using purposive sampling, 20 students and 80 regular primary schools were tested using simple random sampling. To collect data from head teachers and teachers‘ questionnaires were used, whereas the structured interview schedule was used to collect data for learners and parents. A focused group discussion was used to collect data from regular teachers and learners who were sampled using convenience sampling techniques. Piloting was at Kawale primary school. Validity and reliability of the study instruments were determined by test-retest technique. Quantitative data was coded and feed into SPSS programme version 22.0. After that, the quantitative data were analysed by descriptive statistics using tables, graphs, figures, percentages, mean, and frequencies; a t-test and multiple regression tests were conducted to determine the variances in perceptions of the respondents. The analysis of Qualitative data from the focus group discussion was done thematically and reported narratively. The study findings showed that school heads, teachers, parents and learners have an overall positive perception towards the inclusion of learners with EBD in regular schools. The results revealed that class had a statistically significant influence on the perception of learners regarding the inclusion of peers with EBD in regular schools. Findings from the focus group discussions indicated that even though the teachers and learners supported the inclusion, they had pertinent issues which they wanted resolved to facilitate active inclusion of the learners with EBD to the rest of the learners in regular school. Based on this, the study recommends increase in-serving training and advocacy to equip regular teachers with the necessary skills to teach children with and without EBD. The research also suggests the implementation of best programs and practices in supporting learners with EBD and other special needs learners in all schools in Malawi. The study recommends that the government of Malawi through the Ministry of Education and the head teachers to take appropriate measures to increase the ability of regular schools in sensitizing teachers, learners and parents about educational needs of learners with emotional and behavioural disorders and all other categories of special needs.