Status of Early Identification of Learners with Special Educational Needs in Selected Regular Primary Schools in Njoro, Nakuru County Kenya
Muchiri, Moses Wambage
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Identification of special needs among regular learners is the most complex issue in the field of education. Despite the Kenyan government efforts to provide free education to all children, they have not borne much fruits. In fact, children with special needs continue to be discriminated by their families, schools and the community. Ideally, these children should be identified earlier in order to curb the increasing level of ignorance. The focus of the study was to investigate the status of early identification of learners with special educational needs in selected Kenyan regular primary schools. Specifically the study sought to establish methods teachers use, teacher factors, home environment factors and the placement options available for learners with special needs education in Nakuru County. The study was carried out in Njoro Sub-county. The study used descriptive survey research design. Questionnaires were used to collect data from the class teachers and interviews conducted with head teachers. Purposive sampling was used to sample head teachers. The sample size used in the study comprised of 4 head teachers of the respective sampled schools, 2 standard one teachers and any other special needs teacher in the school. Validity of the instrument was established through the professional counsel by the university supervisors, the course lecturers and the fellow students. Reliability of the instruments was assessed through the split-half method of assessing reliability. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics with the help of statistical package for social science (SPSS Version 24.) and presented in form of tables, graphs, frequency distributions and percentages. Qualitative data from interviews was analysed using correlation analysis and presented in pros form. Based on the findings, some of the characteristics exhibited by pupils with special needs include lack of concentration and inability to follow simple instructions. On factors influencing the identification of learners with disabilities, the study found that income level posed a great challenge. The researcher further noted that when teachers identified that a particular child was having a learning or behavioural difficulty, he/she requested for a formal evaluation. The researcher recommends that, teacher should train in SNE so as to provide skills and attitudes aimed at habitation and adjustment to environment. Also, EARCs should offer special needs service clinics: to study children with special education needs, give advice to parents and teachers on appropriate methods of education and give advice to county education boards regarding assessment of the needs of special children. Moreover, special education must provide an administrative organization to facilitate achievement for children with exceptionalities of the same educational goals as those pursued by other children. In order to better predict academic achievement among pupils with special needs, it would be interesting to incorporate some of the variables that are likely to influence academic performance among pupils with special needs. The researcher suggested that a study should be conducted to determine the influence of parenting style on the academic performance of learners with special needs education.