Curriculum barriers to the implementation of inclusion of learners with Autism-a case study of City primary school. Nairobi- County, Kenya
Njenga, Hannah N
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This study aimed at establishing the curriculum barriers to the implementation of inclusion of learners with autism through a case study of City Primary School. Specifically the study sought to establish the attitude of teachers and regular learners towards learners with autism, suitability of available teaching and learning resources, qualification of teachers to support learners with autism and adaptations made to the curriculum and teaching/learning strategies to suit learners with autism. The study used a case study design where both qualitative and quantitative data was collected in order to determine curriculum barriers to inclusion of learners with autism in City Primary School-Nairobi County. Questionnaires, interview schedule and lesson observation guide were used to collect data from the head teacher, teachers, learners and the learning environment The target population for this study included 1 Head teacher, 30 teachers and 240 learners. Ten teachers who taught in the classes where learners with autism were included were purposively sampled. In addition 2 teachers from the special unit were also sampled. Thirty learners were randomly sampled from classes' four to eight, that is, 6 learners per class The data that was obtained was analyzed qualitatively and responses to the open-ended items in the questionnaires, interview responses and observation data were analyzed and reported qualitatively. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyse data and the findings were presented in graphs, tables, charts and in narrative form. The findings indicate that majority of teachers, 92%, have positive attitudes as shown by their appreciation of inclusion of learners with autism in the regular school. The findings show that 90.3% of the learners were in agreement that regular learners were friendly with learners with autism which is an indication of positive attitude. To find out whether teachers had professional qualification and exercised professionalism in their work with autistic learners, the findings show that 75% of the teachers adequately supported learners with autism in the inclusive setting. On the need to train teachers, 92% of teachers indicated that they needed specialized training to enable them implement inclusion of learners with autism. According to research findings the teaching and learning strategies employed to cater for learners with autism include Individualized Educational Programme and Direct Instructions. Other very effective specialized teaching techniques such as Diagnostic Prescriptive Teaching (DPT), Task Analysis and Prompting are rarely utilized by teachers. The findings also indicate 70% of the teachers suggesting the need to make curriculum flexible to cater for learners with autism in an inclusive setting. From the findings of the study it can be concluded that there exists favourable attitude towards learners with autism among teachers and regular learners despite a small percentage (8%) who still have a negative attitude. It is also evident that teachers lack necessary skills to implement inclusion of learners with autism. Use of inappropriate teaching learning strategies and inadequate teaching and learning materials are also cited as barriers to inclusion of learners with autism. The study also shows that curriculum needs to be adapted to accommodate learners with autism Successful inclusion of learners with Autism would call for concerted efforts among stakeholders. The ministry of education should organize in- service programmes to equip teachers with skills of teaching learners with autism in an inclusive setting. Kenya Institute of Special Education and local universities should offer specialized courses on the education of learners with autism to equip teachers with specialized skills to handle these learners. The ministry should also provide additional financial support to facilitate acquisition of specialized teaching and learning resources required for successful inclusion of learners with Autism. The Kenya Institute of Education should carry out a needs assessment to determine the curriculum needs of learners with Autism and thus make the necessary adaptations to the curriculum content. Lastly, sensitization programmes should be launched targeting regular learners and teachers who still seem to have negative attitude towards inclusion of learners with autism.