Barriers to successful inclusion of learners with visual impairments in primary schools in Igoji Division, Imenti South District, Meru, Kenya
Rethaa, Alfred Gitonga
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This study investigated the barriers to successful inclusion of learners with visual impairments in education program at primary school level. The research was carried out in Egoji Division of Imenti South District, Kenya. The attitude of learners, their preparedness and the availability of physical facilities and equipment among others shed light on the possible problems learners with visual impairments face in the advent of the implementation of inclusive education in Kenya. It is on this premise that the study was designed to identify barriers to successful inclusion of visually impaired persons in primary schools. Focus was placed on factors affecting the provision of special needs education with visual impairment and teachers' attitudes towards SNE, resources, equipment, support systems and program content. The study used a descriptive survey design. Data were collected from eighteen schools out of the total of thirty-five schools in the division. The data from the division education officer, a Teachers Advisory Centre tutor, nineteen headteachers, thirty-nine teachers and seventy-six learners were collected through questionnaire and interview schedules. Data were analyzed by use of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to obtain descriptive statistics such as frequency tables, pie charts and bar graphs. The results of the study indicate that inclusion of learners with visual impairments in Egoji Division of Imenti South District faces a myriad of challenges. The lack of competent special needs education teachers (particularly those trained in visual impairment), inadequate learning materials and infrastructure that facilitate mobility/learning/play/ablution and unfavourable attitude are some of the challenges. Inclusive education program for learners with visual impairment is also negatively affected by lack of adequate funds to implement institutional modifications. Arising from the study findings the following recommendations were made: the urgent need for the inclusion of special needs education in the curriculum of all teacher training colleges in the country; schools should be financially supported in their efforts to make education accessible to all learners (i.e. sighted and visually impaired persons); the Government, church organizations, the local community and other donors should help equip schools with necessary teaching personnel, learning materials, infrastructure that facilitate mobility/learning/play/ablution for all learners including those with visual impairments; and outreach programs should be carried out to instill favourable attitudes among learners, teachers, school adm inistrations and other stakeholders on the benefits of inclusive education.