Factors affecting access and retention of children with special needs in selected primary schools in Nairobi Province
Ogutu, Maureen Teresa
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Education is a basic right to all children regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Majority of the learners with special needs in Kenya do not access educational services. In 1999 for example, there were only 22,000 learners with special needs in schools. This number rose to 26,885 in 2003 and to 45,000 in 2008, This compares poorly with the proportion in general education. This is a clear indication that more children with special needs do not access education. It is for this reason that the current study investigated the factors affecting access and retention of children with special needs in selected primary schools in Nairobi. The objectives of the study were to analyze the trend in access and retention of children with special needs between years 2003 - 2010 and to assess both the school and home based factors affecting access and retention of children with special needs. The study was based on classical liberal theory of equal opportunity and social Darwinism. The research adopted a descriptive research design which involved collection of information through questionnaires for headteachers and teachers as well as interview schedules for parents of children with special needs. The subjects of the study included (37) headteachers, (103) teachers and (980) parents. The total sample size was 108 (17.61%) comprising of 12 (32.43%) headteachers, 32 (31.06%) teachers and 64 (16.88%) parents. The sample schools/units were selected using simple random sampling procedure. Sample population of teachers and parents of learners with special needs were drawn from Krejcie & Morgan's (1970) tables for determining appropriate sample size. A pilot study was carried out in a school which was not part of the study. To test reliability of the research instruments, a test - retest method was administered. To test validity, a panel of two members of the department was requested to assess the relevance of the content used in the research instruments. Spearman's coefficient of correlation formula was employed to compute the correlation coefficient. A correlation coefficient (r) of 0.832 was worked out and since a (r) of 0.75 was considered high enough to judge the reliability of the instruments, the research instruments were therefore found to be reliable. Data was collected by the researcher and analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Qualitative data was analyzed thematically. Some quantitative data was used to analyze quantitative data. The Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS) aided the analysis of the data collected. The study revealed that though the government funds species education, 62.5% of the respondents felt that the funding was inadequate. Parents' level of education was also seen as a factor which highly affects access and retention of learners with disabilities. On the issue of importance of special education 49% of the parents' respondents' perceived special education as being very helpful to their children with disabilities, while 59% of the same responded reported that special education is fairly helpful to their children. Other components which erected access and retention of children with special needs included transport, education, meals, and equipments such as Braille machines, hearing aids, calipers and wheelchairs. The study recommended that the government need to provide sufficient funds to special schools as well as ensuring that all headteachers provide up to date enrolment and retention data, The government should also create awareness on the importance of education to children with disabilities.