Special Needs Education (SNE) in Kenyan public primary schools: exploring government policy and teachers’ understandings

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Special Needs Education (SNE) in Kenyan public primary schools: exploring government policy and teachers’ understandings
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://v-scheiner.brunel.ac.uk/bitstream/2438/7767/1/FulltextThesis.pdf
This research focuses on Special Needs Education (SNE) in Kenyan Public
Primary Schools: Exploring Government Policy and Teachers’ understandings.
At a time when Kenya is introducing reforms with a view to addressing broad
national objectives and providing universal primary education (UPE) after the
massive enrolment increases arising from the free primary education declaration
(FPE), it was important to establish teachers’ understandings on SEN. The study
was undertaken in 27 primary schools in urban, municipal and rural parts of
Kenya. A phenomenological qualitative approach was mainly used and data were
collected from teachers through a survey comprising: (i) 159 self-administered
questionnaires ii) Nine in-depth interviews. From the results of a pilot study,
necessary adaptations were made for the main study. The data provided insights to
teachers’ teaching strategies, impacts of mainstreaming, factors that prevent the
participation of children said to have SEN, challenges in meeting the diverse
needs in the classroom and the support they may require in providing more
engaging and effective learning instructions. The findings show that many
teachers lack a repertoire of learning and teaching strategies appropriate for
addressing barriers to learning and providing individualized approaches in the
classrooms. Some teachers were positive about teaching children said to have
SEN but lacked the infrastructure of support and guidance, were confused by
different terminologies and found the concept of SEN not to be enabling. What
teachers are calling for is more training to help them develop strategies which are
responsive to the identified learning difficulties. Through Documentary Analysis
of the Kenya National Special Needs Education (SNE) Policy Framework,
Ministry of Education (MoE, 2009), it was identified that the policy is difficult
and ambiguous for teachers to implement. The policy fails to include salient
definitions to facilitate a common way of addressing children said to have SEN
which results in them being labelled. The recommendations of the research
indicate that children’s unique needs be made transparent and addressed using
effective individualized education plans to influence and maintain high
expectations, positive and enriched ways of teaching in order to improve the
children’s learning opportunities as well as other extracurricular activities. The
national policy should be revised to include feasible targets in order to facilitate
on-going evaluation and embed definitions of key words which are pivotal to
planning, assessment, identification, provision and placement of children said to
have SEN. Suggestions for further research have also been included.

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