Readiness of primary schools in Mathioya District in providing inclusive education
Gakuhi, Alice Muthoni
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The objective of inclusive education calls for children with special needs to attend the same classes in the regular schools along side with the rest of the pupils with no special needs. Inclusive education is primarily about restructuring school cultures policies and practices so that they respond to diversity of students in the locality. It sees individual differences not as problems to be fixed, but as opportunity for enriching learning and for education system to embrace change. The schools are required to adjust themselves to accommodate every child regardless of his/her special needs. The purpose of the study was to find out the readiness of the regular primary schools in Mathioya district in providing inclusive education. Specifically, the study investigated, the availability of materials and accessibility of school facilities to cater for the needs of learners with disabilities, the attitude of district education administrators, school administrators, and teachers in including disabled learners in the regular classes, challenges facing teachers in ensuring that learners with special needs have equal access and quality education in the regular classroom, proposed suggestions on how the situation can be improved to provide inclusive education. Data for this study was gathered from primary schools in Mathioya district. Descriptive survey design was used to collect information. The targeted population was 61 schools, 61 head teachers, 612 teachers and 3 district education administrators. The sample included 20 schools and their head teachers, 204 teachers and 8 district administrators, selected using stratified random sampling and purposeful sampling to include model schools and schools with special units. Data was collected by use of questionnaires, Interview schedules and observational guidelines. A pilot study was carried out in one primary school to determine validity and reliability of the instruments used in the study. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the quantitative data while qualitative data was analyzed by drawing inference from the coded information. Graphs, tables and written text were used to present the analyzed data. The study established that at present, regular teachers are not adequately prepared to teach learners with special needs; the current curriculum does not efficiently cater for learners with disabilities besides there being inadequate materials and the facilities being inaccessible. There was a general agreement on the importance of special units and schools for learners with disabilities. It was perceived that the government could promote the efforts of providing inclusive education through proper curriculum and teachers' trainings. The study also found that though there were successful people with disabilities, they were not preferred as role models despite the perceived need of the suitability of the same people as role models. The study recommended that teachers, the community at large be sensitized on the importance of inclusive education, the government to train and employ enough personnel on special needs education and restructure the curriculum to suit every child.