ATTITUDES OF LEARNERS WITH DISABILITIES AND THEIR PARENTS TOWARDS EDUCATION IN NAKURU DISTRICT

ABSTRACT
Learners with disabilities face numerous social, psychological and physical challenges in accessing educational opportunities and developing their full potentials in order to attain better academic achievements. One of the major challenges has been the attitude of these children towards their own education. This study seeks to evaluate the attitude of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education in Nakuru district, Kenya. This study will adopt an ex post facto research design. The target population for this study will include all 524 learners with disabilities, their parents and the head teachers in the 27 learning institutions/schools for learners with disabilities. A sample of 303 respondents which includes 222 learners, 27 head teachers and 54 parents will be used in this study. Primary data will be collected through administration of three sets of structured questionnaires, including learners, parents and head teacher, with the selected respondents. Secondary data will also be collected from documented information to supplement primary data. Data will be analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics with the aid of a computer programme: Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The study will hopefully help in providing information that can be useful in changing the attitudes of parents and their learners with disabilities, and facilitating access to education by those concerned including the Ministry of Education, administrators of the special institutions, learners, parents and the entire society.

CHAPTER ONE:
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
All societies in the world have existed alongside persons with disabilities. Before the eighteenth century, persons with disabilities were viewed as a burden, useless and having nothing to contribute to the welfare of the society. They were believed to be possessed by demons, to be cursed, a bad omen and a source of embarrassment to their families and society at large (Gearheart et al., 1984). Until the 1970‟s, children with special needs in the world received little or no education because of the common belief that they were uneducable (Winzer, 1993). In most African traditional societies, persons with disabilities were less regarded and treated as a curse. The birth of a child with disability was regarded a bad omen to the family and society (Mbiti, 1969).

However, the situation is gradually and positively changing throughout the world towards accepting, integrating, caring and paying attention to persons with disabilities in order to help them in self-actualization and adjustment to life. The level to which this integration is going to take place will depend on change in attitudes and removal social and physical barriers existing in different spheres of the society. Full participation in the society is only possible if a person feels integrated and part of the same society. The self-image of persons with disabilities is affected by the reception they get and the messages they hear from the society. Most of these messages are negative and greatly impede integration (Ndurumo, 1993).

The United Nations Declaration on the rights of Disabled Persons (1981) and the 17th World Congress of Rehabilitation held in Nairobi in 1991, emphasized on the need for all governments and individuals to integrate persons with disabilities into the life of their societies and to ensure that they become economically independent. To implement this vision, various services and programmes to promote the self–actualization of persons with disabilities have been initiated in different parts of the world (UNESCO, 1981). The Kenyan government has adhered to this and introduced special needs education to take care of learners with disabilities and in some cases integrated them with their able-bodied counterparts. The government has also enacted and implemented the Education For All Handicapped Children Act (1975). The Act was later amended to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and establishes basic principles for educating children with special needs (Hedrick, 1997).

Following the Act, there has been increased access to educational opportunities, training of specialized teachers, physical facilities and specialized schools. The Kamunge Education Commission Report of 1988 observed that the government provides education opportunities to persons with disabilities through special needs education. Special needs education is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the time spent in school by these special needs learners helps them to attain self-actualization and fully develop their potentials. The government has established a number of special schools in the country to cater for such children. According to Education For All (2000), enrolment in special schools at primary school level has increased from 6,115 in 1990 to 8,978 in 1998. The number of schools has also risen from 62 in 1990 to 107 in 1998.

There has also been an increase in the number of integrated programmes from 184 in 1990 to 655 in 1998. For the visually handicapped category, there are 19 programmes sponsored by Sight Savers International (SSI), with a total of 1040 blind children having been integrated into regular primary and secondary schools. Integration of the deaf is only done at the secondary school level. The integration of the physically handicapped has been done at all levels of education system. The current trend is towards more integration and less segregation of the learners with disabilities. So far 11,000 have been integrated in regular schools in the country. The specialized, regular and integrated schools for the hearing impaired, physically and visually impaired follow the same education and sit for the same national examinations. In so doing, learners with disabilities compete equally with their normal children at all levels. At the secondary level, number of schools for the visually handicapped has not increased due to the aggressive integration programme by SSI and the low vision project by Christofel Blinden Mission (CBM). Enrolment in the secondary schools for the hearing impaired has increased from 110 in 1990 to 268 in 1998. This is attributed to the effort by welfare organizations to provide physical facilities and supply teaching staff. The educational placement for children with mental disabilities in the country depends on the severity of the retardation. Specifically, children with mild to moderate mental disability are placed in special units, whereas children with severe to profound mental disabilities are placed in residential-type segregated schools (Education For All, 2000).

The government has also increased the number of teachers trained in special education from 629 in 1990 to about 1700 in 1998. It is also committed to identification, assessment and provision of early intervention for correction and rehabilitation of learners with disabilities. Towards this end, the government has established Education and Assessment Resource Centres (EARC) in every district in the country (Education For All, 2000). There has also been an increase in government expenditure in special education over the years. The total recurrent and development expenditure stands at Kshs 22.89 million since 1997 (Kenya Society for the Physically Handicapped, 1999).

However, despite the above government efforts to increase access to educational opportunities for learners with disabilities, the school enrollment rate is still minimal. For example, out of the 90,000 learners with disabilities who have been identified and assessed in the country, only 14,614 are enrolled in various educational programmes for learners with disabilities and an equivalent number integrated in the regular schools. This implies that majority of the learners with disabilities are either at home or integrated in regular schools with little or no specialized assistance (MOEST, 2004). The situation is not different in Nakuru District. From an estimated 1552 identified and assessed school-going age learners with disabilities, there are only 524 learners in the 27 learning institutions taking care of learners with disabilities including four special schools, ten special units, nine integrated programmes and four small homes (Provincial Director of Education Office, 2006). The low enrollment rate may be attributed to social, psychological and physical challenges facing these learners with disabilities in accessing the available educational opportunities in the country. Of major concern has been the attitude of learners with disabilities and their parents towards education. This has necessitated the need to establish the level of attitude of learners with disabilities and their parents towards education in Nakuru district.

Statement of the Problem
The government of Kenya has established special needs education and integration programme to enable learners with disabilities gain access to education. Despite these efforts, school enrolment rate is still very low. This may be attributed to a number of factors including the attitudes of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education. However, little information exists on the actual levels of attitude of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education. This study seeks to evaluate the attitude of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education in Nakuru district, Kenya.

Purpose of the Study
This study seeks to evaluate the attitude of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education in Nakuru district, Kenya. This will provide information that can be useful in changing the attitudes learners with disabilities and their parents and facilitate access to education.

Objectives of the Study
In order to achieve the purpose of this study, the following specific objectives are stated as below:

(i) To determine the level of attitude of learners with disabilities towards education;

(ii) To determine the level of attitude of parents of learners with disabilities towards education of their children;

(iii) To determine whether the gender of a learner with disability influences his/her attitude of towards education;

(iv) To determine whether the income level of the parent of a learner with disability influences his/her level of attitude towards education of their children; and

(v) To determine whether the gender of a learner with disability influences his/her parent‟s attitude towards education.

Research Questions
The study seeks to address the following research questions:

(i) What is the level of attitude of learners with disabilities towards education?

(ii) What is the level of attitude of parents of learners with disabilities towards education of their children?

(iii) Does the gender of a learner with disability influence his/her attitude of towards education?

(iv) Does the income level of the parent of a learner with disability influence his/her level of attitude towards education of their children?

(v) Does the gender of a learner with disability influence his/her parent‟s attitude towards education?

Significance of the Study
In order to address the challenges facing learners with disabilities in accessing educational opportunities in the country, detailed studies are needed to evaluate the their attitude towards education. This is crucial in understanding the extent to which they appreciate the value of education and the challenges they face in accessing education. Such a study will hopefully help in providing information that can be useful in changing the attitudes of parents and their learners with disabilities, and facilitating access to education by those concerned including the Ministry of Education, administrators of the special institutions, learners, parents and the entire society.

Assumptions of the Study
This study will be based on the following assumptions;-

(i) Learners with disabilities face a number of challenges in accessing education.

(ii) The attitude of learners with disabilities and their parents plays a significant role in determining access of the children to education.

Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study will focus on evaluating the attitude of the learners with disabilities and their parents towards education in Nakuru district, Kenya. Nakuru district is chosen as a research site because of the availability of institutions taking care of learners with disabilities and also children and learners with disabilities in the area, like in all other parts in the country, face numerous social, physical, psychological and educational challenges in accessing educational opportunities. The district has 27 institutions/schools taking care of learners with disabilities (four special education schools, ten special units, nine integrated programmes and four small homes) with a population of 524 learners (296 in special education schools, 142 in special units, 25 in integrated programmes and 61 in small homes) and 68 teachers (Provincial Director of Education Office, 2006). All the 27 institutions/schools will be included in the study and a sample of learners, parents and head teachers selected.

The study is likely to encounter the following limitations which could impede answering the research questions and objectives:

(i) Learners with disabilities are likely to have been stigmatized by the society and people around them. This might make potential learner respondents apprehensive about other people in the society, especially foreigners, and therefore affect development of a good rapport with the researcher. However, the researcher will seek for the assistance of the teachers in the institutions to assist in explaining the motive of the study and developing an amiable rapport with the respondents.

(ii) Time, manpower and financial resource constraints will preclude a more comprehensive coverage of all learners with disabilities in the study area. However, only those children in learning institutions will be used and a sample of them will be included in this study.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 37 pages  |  Chapters: 1-3
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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