Globally, challenges facing learners with special needs and their counseling interventions have been of great concern to educationists and other well wishers. The Kenya government and education stakeholders have joined the world in defending the rights of persons with disabilities. In the process, they have come up with strategies for dealing with the learners’ special concerns although the issues of psychosocial challenges and counseling remedies are still impending. The purpose of this study was to identify psychosocial challenges faced by the learners and come up with counseling interventions to be used by all education stake holders. The study adopted the descriptive survey design which was suitable because it is designed to obtain precise information concerning current status of phenomena and to draw valid conclusions from the facts discovered. The target population comprised 51,775 people while the accessible population comprised 10,200 learners in all the inclusive Primary Schools in the Sub County, 10 Education Officers and 40 Teachers. The sample size consisted of 100 pupils from one private and two public primary schools, five Education officers and 20 class teachers. The education officers and the teachers were purposively sampled while the children were selected using stratified random sampling technique. Quantitative data was collected in the targeted schools using questionnaires while qualitative data was collected using interview schedule which was conducted among selected respondents. Validity of the instruments was ensured by use of experts’ judgment from the department of Psychology, counseling and Education Foundations. A pilot study was conducted to ensure reliability of the instruments where a coefficient of 0.702 was obtained by using Cronbach’s Alpha Method. The study used descriptive statistics such as frequencies, means and percentages when analyzing data. Analysis of qualitative data was done by identifying the key substantive points and putting them into exhaustive and exclusive categories. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0 for windows was used in data analysis. The study revealed that learners in inclusive Primary Schools have diverse special needs, face psychosocial challenges such as withdrawal which require well programmed guidance and counseling services. The study concluded that psychosocial challenges exist among learners with special needs and that counseling interventions have not been put fully resulting to minimal effects on the learners. The study recommended integration of counseling services in all subjects, better remuneration and employment of trained staff and adjustment of education policies to meet learners’ needs.

Background of the Study
The birth of a child with a disability or an emergence of a disability case affects the child’s development and presents challenges to parents, the child itself, communities and education stakeholders globally, regionally and locally (Ngure & Mwangi,2007). The challenges therein include economic, social, health and community attitudes which manifest themselves as psychosocial challenges. The problems are magnified by cultural beliefs on disabilities due to identifiable physical features, motor and cognitive limitations as well as self deprivations. This results to peers, teachers and the community responding to learners with special needs through rejection, segregation, fear, disapproval and disappointment (Andolo, 2006).

Globally, learners with special needs who go through collective violence by peers or other individuals experience dire psychosocial consequences and lack of proper guidance and counseling. This leads to feelings of hopelessness, ineffectiveness and shame hence the need for inclusive education practices worldwide. According to Randiki (2002), continents such as North and South America, Europe and Africa have come up with modalities of curbing the situation. In North and South America, Countries such as Argentina and Canada have embraced inclusive learning with great success. Several inclusionary practices are however developed such as learning environment model where learning facilities and support services are provided. Learners with special needs learn with their peers but are normally separated and assisted in a resource room when need arises. Cooperative teaching programs are also used by qualified personnel. The teaching methodology and teaching presentation approaches are modified to suit the entire class. In spite of these, inclusion practices in Argentina are hindered by overstretched facilities, poverty rates, gender disparities, rigid curriculum, a homogeneous approach of training teachers, lack of proper evaluation and promotion criteria for learners with special needs. Further study by the same scholar showed that in Europe, countries such as Britain, Norway and Denmark practice inclusive education effectively. For instance, Norway and Britain have shown remarkable success in the inclusionary Educational practices. This has been made practical by issuing effective assessment, placement, monitoring and evaluation of learners with special needs. The British government takes care of the learners’ financial needs through pupils’ retention grants. It also constructs new schools and modifies old buildings taking cognizance of the learners’ special needs. Parents are actively involved and there is also an on-going retraining of teachers with the aim of equipping them with modern teaching practices responsive to the needs of a diversity of learners.

In Norway, teachers interact with learners with special needs on a one to one basis because of the average class size of 20 pupils. Education providers have also put in place a lot of room for flexibility and variation in terms of range of content, activities, classroom organization and teaching period. Learners with special needs have ample time to concentrate on relevant tasks resulting to them completing the compulsory education cycle. In Denmark, teacher trainees are prepared in advance to handle any child in the inclusive settings irrespective of their diverse and peculiar needs (Fish, 1995).

A Study by Ndurumo (1993) noted that inclusive Education practices in Africa are found in South Africa, Lesotho, Uganda and Kenya. Inclusion of learners with special needs in primary schools in these countries is hindered by: poverty, lack of specialized personnel, insufficient educational resources, lack of barrier free environment, negative attitudes towards disabilities, high teacher-pupil ratio, rigid curriculum and unfriendly National examinations. Inclusive practice in South Africa emerged successively as a result of appointing qualified and willing officers to key positions in the education sector. The officers had gotten the expertise in Europe and America while in exile and therefore transformed the system of education in South Africa from an exclusive perspective to a more inclusive type. However, the implementers of inclusive education continue to face challenges which include: high teacher pupil ratio, teachers’ unpreparedness, stereotype attitude of able bodied people, inadequate support staff and inability to buy specialized equipment due to high poverty levels (Ndurumo, 1993). The scholar further reported that inclusive practice in Lesotho has taken root with the establishment of more than 10 inclusive schools. The programme was initially funded by the United States of America International Development Agency. Like in most developing Countries, inclusive education in Lesotho is derailed by high poverty levels, homogenous approach of training teachers, tendency to favor best children and those from high social economic backgrounds. This indicates the need to look at the general education reform and to address issues of access and equality for all children.

Acceleration of Inclusive Education practices in Uganda is pegged on positive political goodwill, impact of universal policy, a move towards Education for All, provision of free compulsory education for four children whereby a child with challenges takes first position followed by girl child and others in school admission and care (UNESCO, 1994). According to Randiki (2002), Uganda provides capital for school development, skilled manpower and good arrangement within the school to accommodate learners with special needs in inclusive settings. Further study by the same scholar showed that in Kenya, the Ministry of Science and Technology has developed inclusive education practices in the country with few Sub Counties embracing them. This has been made possible with the aid of some non governmental organizations and churches. Thus Kenya has not fully implemented Jomtien Declaration of Education for All (EFA) 1990 that recommended education of all children regardless of their individual differences. A good example of institutions which have embraced inclusive learning is Oriang Primary School in HomaBay Sub County which was started by Leonard Chesire Foundation from (UK). The institution has succeeded in implementing the programs by bringing teaching and learning resources in a centralized pool for usage.

Meru Sub County has also received the inclusionary practices positively by adjusting school curriculum and environment to match the needs of learners with special needs and their peers. As a whole, inclusive Education practice in Kenya has accelerated since the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and the implementation of Free Primary Education (FPE) which has attracted high enrollment in public schools (KESSP, 2005-2010). This calls for immense demand for services for children with special needs at all levels in Kenya.

The main challenges facing learners with special needs relate to access to educational resources, equity of perception by the able bodied individuals, rigid curriculum and inadequate skills to identify, assesse and assist the learners. All these constraints have led to psychosocial challenges in learners with special needs which require guidance and counseling intervention strategies. Njoro Sub County which is the main focus of the study is affected by these issues which pose dire psychosocial and counseling demands. The counseling intervention carried out in Njoro Primary Schools is inadequate due to lack of skilled personnel in the field. Further still, inclusive practices in Njoro inclusive schools are compounded by poor staff development, irregular financial allocation, insufficient assessment and wanting placement opportunities which do not account for diversity (Njoro Sub county Education Office, 2013). According to the Ministry of Education Strategic Plan (2006-2011), the implementation of inclusive learning in all Primary Schools has led to high enrolment in Schools posing psychosocial challenges to the special population which require to be addressed. The high population in Schools has resulted to overstretched facilities, inadequate specialized personnel, overcrowding in schools, diminished community support and the high pupil- teacher ratio. These issues highlighted thereof need to be curbed and therefore prompted the researcher to carry out the research as these require novel, guidance and counseling intervention measures.

Statement of the Problem
Despite the government’s effort to bring inclusive education practices in Kenya, learners with special needs particularly those in inclusive settings manifests various psychological and social challenges that require counseling interventions. For decades, learners with special needs in Njoro Sub County Primary Schools have had inadequate counseling interventions and manifests psychosocial challenges. Further results from Njoro Education Office indicated that learners in School D had psychosocial challenges and counseling issues emanating from special needs such as specific learning difficulties and severe learning difficulties which is a common feature in the study area. This has contributed to the pupils’ dismal performance in their academic and daily activities. This was made evident by the 2013 KCPE results which ranked the school last in Njoro Sub County with a mean score of 168.12. Though the Government through the Ministry of Education Science and Technology encourages counseling in learning Institutions, these services have not been offered in the Kenya Primary schools. Hence learners with special needs still suffer psychosocial challenges and counseling challenges imposed on them by the able-bodied learners, teachers and other members of the community. If the psychosocial challenges are not met, the learners’ livelihood will be affected negatively. The researcher therefore found it necessary to conduct the research in Njoro Sub County since no study has been done to address the psychosocial challenges and the counseling interventions in inclusive schools. This in return will enable the children cope with their peers, academic performance and interpersonal relationship.

Purpose of the Study
The study intended to identify the psychosocial challenges faced by disabled learners and come up with counseling interventions to be used by all education stakeholders.

Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study envisaged to:

i. Establish types of special needs found in learners in the inclusive Primary Schools of Njoro Sub County.

ii. Determine the psychosocial challenges faced by learners with special needs in inclusive Primary Schools of Njoro Sub County.

iii. To establish the counseling interventions accorded to learners with special needs in inclusive Primary Schools of Njoro Sub County.

Research Questions
To achieve the objectives of the study, the researcher used the following research questions:-

i. Which types of special needs are found in learners in Njoro Sub county inclusive Primary Schools?

ii. What psychosocial challenges face learners with special needs in inclusive Primary Schools of Njoro Sub County?

iii. What counseling interventions are accorded to learners with special needs in inclusive Primary Schools of Njoro Sub County?

Significance of the Study
Findings of the research were expected to change the attitudes of teachers, parents and other caregivers when assisting learners with diverse special needs. It was also aimed at raising the children’s self esteem and assisting the government in eradicating the psychosocial challenges which face the children through counseling by organizing resources, facilities and manpower. Curriculum developers are hoped to come up with an adjusted curriculum which meet the learners’ needs and create room for employment of effective counseling intervention strategies in primary schools. The study sought to generate ideas, knowledge and skills to be used by all Education stakeholders, caregivers and future researchers in designing and monitoring intervention programs for learners with special needs.

Scope of the Study
The study was carried out in Njoro Sub County Primary Schools of Nakuru County which has different categories of inclusive schools namely public day schools and private boarding schools. This therefore provided a fertile ground for the study. The study was strictly confined to teachers, education officers and pupils with special needs in selected private and public inclusive settings where psychosocial challenges and counseling interventions were identified. The class 6-8 pupils were chosen because they were in a position of expressing themselves well and able to fill in the questionnaire.

Limitations of the Study
i. Respondents tended to give socially acceptable responses due to stereotype attitude, school culture and their level of understanding of learners with special needs. The researcher overcame the limitation by comparing data obtained from the various respondents.

ii. Learners’ cultural values and religious factors prevented them from airing their views openly. However, the limitations were addressed by ensuring the learners maximum confidentiality and through questionnaires and interview schedule given respectively to the teachers and the education officers trained in handling learners with special needs in Njoro Sub County.

Assumptions of the Study
The study was guided by the following assumptions:-

i. The study assumed that the respondents provided honest, pertinent and relevant answers to research questions.

ii. That all the selected respondents in the study were a reasonable representation of the targeted people in Njoro Sub County.

iii. That the teachers and Education officers had knowledge pertaining to pupils with special needs.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 73 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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