Institutional factors influencing inclusion of mentally challenged learners in regular schools in Kirinyaga West District, Central province, Kenya
Many children with disabilities are excluded from school or are sitting idling in regular classes until they are old enough to drop. Further, regular classroom teachers do not feel prepared for any increase in their professional responsibilities towards learners with disabilities and are not enthusiastic about increasing the amount of time these children spend in general education classrooms. The purpose of the study was to investigate institutional factors influencing inclusion of mentally challenged learners at primary level in Kirinyaga West District. It aimed to investigate how the availability of facilities and resources, professional training of teachers, teacher pupil ratio and leamer's school attendance influences inclusive education. Descriptive survey design was used in this study. The target population for this study included 1 special school and twelve integrated units for the mentally challenged learners in Kirinyaga West District with a population of 2001 learners, 29 teachers and 13 head teachers. The tool of data collection for this study was a questionnaire for head teachers and teachers and observation schedule for the learning environment. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages and mean scores while qualitative data was done using content analysis (used when one has sets of existing written which require analysis. From the findings, availability of facilities and resources provided in relation to the learners needs relate to the learners needs, are in the right quantity, and constitute of the necessary resources for example plasticine, blocks in mentally challenged learners' regular schools in Kirinyaga West District. There is sensitization of teachers on inclusive education; teachers are trained to handle mentally challenged learners and teachers attend refresher courses. In terms of teacher pupil ratio, the results indicated that learners are sometimes grouped according to their abilities while teachers sometimes have a defined number of learners to manage, as per requirements. The findings from both the teachers and head teachers illustrates that there is full participation of learners in class abilities and learners are taught different subjects in a day in mentally challenged regular schools in Kirinyaga West District. The study concluded that availability of facilities and resources influence inclusion of mentally challenged learners in regular schools. The study concluded that professional training of teachers influences inclusion of mentally challenged learners in regular schools because they are able to handle them according to their behavior. Teacher pupil ratio influences inclusion of mentally challenged learners in regular schools where all teachers are allocated various classes and the students are positioned according to their abilities. The study recommended that The Ministry of Education should consider increasing the provision of enough facilities and resources for the mentally challenged learners to enable them feel accommodated and also ensure that their needs are adequately and appropriately catered for. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of understanding through assessment of assistance in mentally challenged leamer's school life and the positive effect on teacher and parent relations on roles should be conducted.