ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER'S PERCEPTION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN THE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION IN KWARA STATE
1.0 Background to the Study
Inclusion is an educational approach and philosophy that provides all students with community membership, greater opportunities for academic and social achievement. Inclusion is about making sure that each and every student feels welcome and that their unique needs and learning styles are attended to and valued. Inclusive education happens when children with or without disabilities participate and learn together in the classes. Inclusive education is about children with disabilities, whether the disability is mild or severe, hidden or obvious, participating in everyday learning activities with the able children, lust like they would if their disability were not present.
Inclusive education is a child’s right, not a privilege, under this programme, all children with non-disabled children of their own age and have access to the general education curriculum. Including classroom practice is about making sure that children are taught in ways that suits their needs. Inclusive education has been adapted by a number of countries since recognition by the United Nations in 1994.
Teachers are the key implementers of the inclusive education programmes in the schools in which children with special needs can be accommodated and provided equal learning opportunities and support to meet their potential. But many teachers claimed not knowing about inclusive education. They think children with special needs, especially with disabilities have no place in regular schools. It was established that special education (segregation/ isolation) was for children with disabilities and specially trained teachers teach and cater for them. Therefore, this research intends to investigate the teachers’ perception, most especially the English Language of the inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education in Kwara State.
Nigeria adopted the policy of inclusion in her National policy on Education in 1998.The policy stipulates the integration of special needs students into regular classrooms and free education for exceptional students at all levels. In practice however, not all states of the federation has started the implementation of the policy. The benefits of inclusive education are numerous for both students with and without disabilities. Such as meaningful friendships, increase social relationships and network etc.
It also needs to be noted that empirical evidence of research shows that not all teachers are enthusiastic about inclusive education, for instance, Bothma, Gravette and Swart (2000, pp. 201-202) conducted a study to explore the attitudes of primary school teachers towards inclusive education. Their findings revealed that teachers have a negative attitude towards inclusive education. Those who participated in the study believed that learners with special needs can be better served in special schools or classes by specialist teachers. This skeptical attitude of teachers could be suggestive of the opinions and belief that they have about their teaching experiences and efficacy. The belief are based on the filet that teachers have tried and tested methods that have been working well for them year after year and it is on the bases of these methods that their teaching is meaningful to them. Inclusive education on the other hand unsettles their minds because it is theoretically good but lacks clear practical activities that are expected to happen in actual teaching. Vaughn and Schumm (1995, p. 264) contend that there is little empirical documented evidence that exists for the effect of fully inclusive programmes of learners who have high incidence of learning disabilities.
The uncertainty of teachers about the positive outcome of inclusive education is not unique to South Africa In Western Australia, for instance, Forlin (1998, pp. 98-99) conducted a study entitled, Teachers’ Personal Concerns about Including Children with a Disability in Regular Classrooms, and the results showed that teachers were concerned about high expectations for them to be accountable for all children in their classrooms as well as to provide quality education equally for learners with special needs. The study further revealed that regular class teachers were concerned about their own efficacy and knowledge-base if they were to be involved in inclusive education. They believed that they were not well prepared to cope with additional special needs of a child with disability if placed in their classrooms. In another study conducted in the south-eastern United State entitled, Teachers’ Views of Inclusion, Vaughn, School, Jallad, Slusher and Saumell (1996, pp.104-105) found that teachers who have not experienced firsthand positive aspects of inclusion models that provide adequate support programmes for teachers did not have positive view of inclusion and furthermore they were concerned that educational and social needs of students with and without disabilities would not be met in general education classroom despite the best effort of teachers and the good intention of those who have advocated for those programmes. They also perceived that with inclusion there will be demands to meet the needs of learners with special needs and to potentially co-teach and co-plan with other educational specialists.
In order for inclusion to work in practice, teachers in regular schools in Nigeria must accept its philosophies and demands. According to Salend and Duhaney (1999), educators have varying attitudes towards inclusion, their responses being shaped by a range of variables such as their success in implementing inclusion, student characteristics, training and levels of support. Some studies reported positive outcomes for general teachers, including increased skills in meeting the needs of all their students and developing an increased confidence in their teaching ability. Negative outcomes included the fear that the education of non-disabled children might suffer and the lack of funds to support instructional needs. For special educators, the benefits included an increased feeling of being an integral part of the school community and the opportunity to work with students without disabilities.
It is observed from the literature that available studies on inclusive education have sighed away from including variables such as influence of gender, i.e. whether or not the male teachers have better perception than their female counterpart; similarly. Qualification, in terms of whether or not there is variation in the teachers’ perception based on their qualification and the years of experience in teaching. It is on this note that this current study intends to focus on these variables in terms of determining whether they can influence teachers’ perception of inclusive education.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Education situation, according to Gunter (1990, P.34), is an inter-subjective relation of mutual appeal and response which needs the correct and true cognitive attitude of an educator towards the learner to be the person-attitude not observer attitude. In view of this contention, therefore, the implementation of new policy of inclusive education needs to be accepted by all people involved, especially teachers who are expected to be the implementing agents. They need to take ownership and have inter-subjective relation of mutual appeal with learners with special educational needs. Given the nature of attitudes that teachers hold towards inclusion in studies referred to above its success is facing a tremendous challenge. Engelbrecht and Forlin, (Pp. 8-9), for instance, contend that introduction of inclusion raises suspicion and conflict among teachers, and its success rests on the ability of the process of implementation not to alienate or threaten, but to meet teachers and students where they are and responding to their needs in a supportive way. It also needs to be considered that if inclusion is intended to provide quality education for all leaner’s irrespective of their abilities, inclusive practices alone do not necessarily lead to quality of educational opportunity instead it may constitute a great educational inequality if educators are not accepting of and support with the implementation (Forlin, Douglas & Hattie, 1996, p.l3O). Inclusive education is not new but has not been practiced in the Nigerian schools, most especially secondary schools over the years.
Literature has revealed limited studies on inclusive education in the Nigerian secondary school education context. For instance, Ajuwon (2008) examined inclusive education for students with disabilities in Nigeria by considering its benefits and challenges together with the policy implication. The author used a theoretical approach at the expense of empirical investigation. So also Fakolade, Adeniyi and Tella (2009) explored the attitudes of teachers about inclusion of special needs children in their secondary schools in general education. ‘The findings revealed that the female teachers have more positive attitude towards the inclusion of special needs students than their male counterparts. Mba (1991) carried out a study on the attitude of teachers towards the inclusion of hard-of-hearing students in general education classroom; it was revealed that the attitude of teachers indicated hesitancy of the teachers to accept the hard-of-hearing unless the communication barrier was obviated. The current study is different from this one because it focus on inclusive education in general which the former focused on a specific special group i.e. the hard-of-hearing students. Also, Ogbue (1995) reported an interview conducted in Lagos State on the issue of inclusion of special need children in general education classroom, The findings revealed that out of the 200 regular primary school teachers interviewed, 60% of them rejected inclusion, while 35% indicated they would want inclusion provided they were adequately trained. The remaining 5% were undecided. This study is also different from the current one in view of the fact that it focused on the acceptance or otherwise of the inclusive education by the teachers. Looking at these studies all together, only Fakolade et al. study seem to be a bit related in terms of focusing on gender which is just one of the variables focused in the current study. Therefore, including variables such as gender. Qualification and teaching experience in other to determine whether or not the influence perception on inclusive education by the English teachers is germane.
1.2. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to determine the English language teachers’ perception of Inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education in Kwara State. In view of this, the research tends to investigate:
a. The difference between male and female English language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the universal Basic Education.
b. The difference between rural and urban English language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education.
c. The difference between special education teachers and mainstream teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education.
d. The difference of English Language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education based on years of experience.
e. The difference between qualified and un-qualified English language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in Universal Basic Education.
1.3 Research Questions
a. What are the perceptions of English language teachers of the inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education?
b. What are the perceptions of Kwara State English language teachers’ of inclusive education based on gender?
c. Would the qualification of English language teachers determine their perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education?
d. Is there any difference between the perception of the experienced and less experienced English language teachers on the inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education in Kwara state?
e. Would the perception of teachers of English Language in rural areas differ on inclusive education from their counterparts in urban area?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
1. There is no significant difference between the qualified and unqualified English Language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education.
2. There is no significant difference in the teachers ‘perception of inclusive education in the universal Basic education-based on years’ experience.
3. There is no significant difference in the perception of Kwara State English language teachers’ of inclusive education based on gender.
4. There is no significant difference in the perception of the qualified and non-qualified English language teachers on inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education.
5. There is no significant difference in the perception of the experienced and less experienced English language teachers on the inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education in Kwara state.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study will be limited to the universal basic education secondary schools in Ilorin west Local Government Area of Kwara State. All the English Language teachers in the secondary schools that would be randomly selected shall be participants. The study would focus on the English language teachers’ perception of inclusive education in the Universal Basic Education using the teachers’ gender, qualification, experience and location as independent variables of the study. A researcher-designed questionnaire would be used to collect data from the respondents. The data obtained would be analyzed using percentages and the chi-square.
1.6 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are operationally defined as they will be used in this study.
⦁ Perception: the way teachers see and understand a concept.
⦁ Exceptional student: student with an unusual case. A term describing children whose performance deviates from the norm to the extent that special education is needed.
⦁ Key implementer: the person that makes something that has been officially decided start to happen (person who carry out).
⦁ Experienced teachers: these are teachers who have been teaching for more than five years.
⦁ Less experienced: these are teachers who have been teaching for less than five years.
⦁ Disability: student case of not being able to use a part of the body or that cannot learn easily.
⦁ Non-disabled: student who are physically and mentally fit.
⦁ The terms teacher and educator are used interchangeable to refer to the trained person who delivers the curriculum in the classroom.
⦁ Trained Teachers: These are teachers trained, qualified and certified by government approved tertiary institutions to teach English language.
⦁ Untrained Teachers: these are teachers of subjects other than English (often, the Arts and Social Science teachers) who teach English language where there are no experts of English in school.
⦁ Ordinary Teacher/ Mainstream Teachers: A teacher who has been trained to teach student in the mainstream classes. They are teachers who are trained to teach in the regular schools.
⦁ Inclusion: the process of bringing children with exceptionalities into regular classroom where they learn side by side with the able bodied students using same teacher.
⦁ Mainstream students: These are the non-disabled learners learning in the normal regular school setting.
⦁ Attitudes have been used to refer to the teachers’ feelings and opinions about inclusive education as measured by an attitude scale.
1.7 Significance of the study
The findings would help school administrators to plan and budget for inclusive education.
It is hoped the study would help the planner policy makers to review the basic school curricular and the policy inclusive education. It would also help the colleges of education and other teacher trainers review curriculum on the training of teachers and help change ordinary teachers’ attitudes towards students with special educational needs..