Constraints facing inclusive education for children with special needs in public primary schools in Embu East District, Embu county, Kenya
Obadiah, Njiru Nthia
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Education is perceived as a basic human right for all regardless of individual differences and a key ingredient for socio-economic development. Access, retention and participation are achieved through emphasis on inclusive education in regular schools for learners with special needs and disabilities. The purpose of this study was to establish constraints facing inclusive education for children with special needs in public primary schools in Embu East District, Embu County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were to analyze physical and teaching/learning resources provided for inclusive education for children with special needs; to establish factors enhancing teaching and learning skills used by teachers in implementation of inclusive education; to establish financial resources for supporting inclusive education and to find out difficulties faced by children with special needs and teachers in implementation of inclusive education for children with special needs in public primary schools. The study adopted descriptive survey research design and targeted all the headteachers and teachers in the 70 public primary schools in the district. Interval sampling technique was adopted to select the 12 participating schools and purposive sampling to select the participants. The sample size was 12 (17%) headteachers and 108 (15%) teachers. Data were collected using questionnaires and observation checklist, validated through piloting and their reliability assessed, analyzed using descriptive statistics using StataSE 11 and presented using percentages and frequency distribution tables. From the findings, schools were not well equipped with physical and teaching/learning resources to support inclusive education; female SNE teachers were fewer than their counterparts; teaching personnel who had undergone SNE training were few with the headteachers lagging denoting a shortage of manpower with requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes making it difficult to mainstream special education in regular primary schools; numerous support services that schools obtained from various stakeholders were noted; in spite of the Government of the Republic of Kenya being the main financier of inclusive education, its financial support was inadequate with delayed remittance; despite the headteachers being financial managers in their schools, majority had not undertaken school management courses. Moreover, few severe cases of learners with special needs enrolled requiring support from their parents, siblings and peers were reported. Other constraints faced by teachers in inclusive education were lack of motivation, irregular attendance of SNE learners, large class enrollment and lack of enough support from colleagues which compromised the quality of inclusive education. Based on these findings, timely remittance of adequate funds; capacity building for headteachers and teachers to keep them abreast with current trends in education and to enhance their efficiency; inclusion of special needs education at all levels of teacher education so as to embrace inclusive education; provision of adequate physical and material resources in support of inclusive education; and sensitization of the community on inclusive education were recommended to the Ministry of Education. The TSC was advised to adequately staff public primary schools so as to cater for increased enrolment of learners. Finally, teachers were recommended to create rapport with learners so as to encourage regular attendance to school.