Determinants of School Access and Retention of Learners with Physical Disabilities in Meru County, Kenya
Kariamana, Mbiti Alice
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The study sought to analyse determinants of school access and retention for learners with physical disability in Igembe South Sub-County, Meru County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were to; Establish the level of access and retention rate of learners with physical disability, Establish how Free Primary Education(FPE) affect school access and retention of learners with physical disability, Determine school-related factors affecting school access and retention of learners with physical disability, Determine home-related factors affecting school access and retention of learners with physical disability. The study adopted a descriptive research design, with both qualitative and quantitative methods. The target population comprised of 214 learners, 20 teachers,6 head teachers and 1 EARC officer. The study used purposive sampling to select teachers, head- teachers, and EARC officer. Stratified random sampling was used to select learners. The sample size was 56 learners, 6 teachers, 3 head teachers, 1 EARC officer. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules, and observation checklist. The responses to the items from questionnaires and observation checklist were analyzed by assigning numeral symbols to values or levels of each variable. The coded data was then entered into the computer using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) program to generate descriptive statistics. The study established that both rates of the access and retention of learners with physical disability in Igembe South sub-county was moderate. The major factors that influenced both access and retention of learners with PD are; inadequacy of financial support from FPE program, lack of assistive devices, lack of proper environmental and architectural modifications, lack of qualified and enough teachers and other personnel, poverty at household level among others. The study established that to some extent, FPE had enabled many children with physical disabilities to access and be retained in schools. The researcner made some of the following recommendations: educational stakeholders should regularly consult to come up with sustainable measures that could be instituted to enhance school access and retention of learners with physical disabilities; the government should expand the existing facilities in the school to cater for learners with physical disabilities and the school should create a more friendly environment for learners with physical disabilities.