TEACHERS' PREPAREDNESS FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA.
The problem of implementation of inclusive education continues to hinder the objectives of education for all, with regard to English language teachers’ preparedness to teach the English language in inclusive classrooms. In this study, an attempt was made to investigate the extent of teachers ’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive Education in Senior Secondary Schools in Abakaliki Local Government Area. Four research questions guided this study. The study employed a descriptive research survey design. The instrument for data collection was the teachers’ preparedness for the inclusive education questionnaire (TPFIEQ). The TPFIEQ was subjected to face validation by two experts in Language Education and three experts in Measurement and Evaluation. Their comments were incorporated in the final draft of the TPFIEQ. The population of the study was (70) seventy English language teachers. The sample for the study was made up of (34) thirty-four males and (36) thirty-six English language teachers from five (5) public and two (2) private secondary schools. The data collected was analyzed using mean score, standard deviation and simple percentages while t-test statistic and chi-square were used for testing the four hypotheses formulated for the study. The reliability of the instrument was assessed using Cronbach's alpha (a). It yielded an overall reliability coefficient of 0.76, which was normal. The data generated from this study were analyzed using means, standard deviation, and simple percentages while t-test and chi-square test were used to test hypotheses at a 0.05 level of significance. One of the major findings of the study was:
There was no significant effect on mean ratings of teachers’ preparedness in teaching the English language in inclusive education at 0.05 level of significance. Following the findings of the study, one of the recommendations was training and retraining of English teachers through in-service-training to equip them with the requisite pedagogical skills that will enable them to effectively teach in inclusive education.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Background of the Study
Compulsory education in Nigeria came into effect with the launching of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) on September 30, 1999, by the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at Sokoto where the parents and guardians in Nigeria were mandated to ensure that every child was given the right to education. The goals of the scheme are to universalize access to free basic education, engender a conducive learning environment, and eradicate illiteracy in Nigeria within the shortest possible time (Omolewa 2004). In a sense, the scheme has highlighted the obligatory responsibilities of parents who in the past denied many disabled children from education to enroll them in schools (Ahmed, 2001).
Sequel to the above goal, the Federal Government embarked on different free education programs including the Universal Primary Education in 1979 (UPE). Nigeria equally participated and signed the declaration of the world conference on education for all (EFA) which was held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990. However, in the realization of the indispensability of equality of Education for All (EFA) irrespective of one's social or physical status, the federal and state government made gigantic strides in providing free and compulsory education from primary to junior secondary schools. Prominent among these states include: Ebonyi, Imo, and cross river states respectively. Also, the government of Nigeria participated and signed the declarations of the world conference on Education for all (EFA) in 1990 in Jomtien in Thailand, as well as the world Education Forum (WEF) of Darkar which averred that between 2015 and 2020, all youths, adults, children with special needs, the poor, the girls and vulnerable children should have access to free and compulsory primary and junior secondary education.
Article I of the declaration affirmed that every child, youth, and adults shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. The Salamanca declaration of 1994, provided the needed and theoretical frames for inclusive education. In the report, the point made was that "The task of the future is to identify ways in which the school, as part of the social environment can create better learning opportunities for all children and by this means, address the challenge that most pervasive source of learning difficulties in the school system itself". That report further described "inclusion" as the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitude, of welcoming communities and building an inclusive society.
However, the quest for equity of access to education for all children irrespective of social and physical status brought about the introduction of inclusive education. Inclusive education is a process of enhancing the capacity of the education system to reach out to diverse learners. Adebiyi (2003) defines inclusive education as educating a child with visual impairment or any other disability in the conventional schools instead of sending the child to a special school. According to Ozoji (2005), inclusive education is an education option carefully designed to educate special needs learners within the re-structured public, private or community schools.
Inclusion is about the child's right to participate and the school's duty to accept the child. Inclusion rejects the use of special schools or classrooms to separate students with disabilities from students without disabilities. A premium is placed upon full participation by students with disabilities and upon respect for their social, civil, and educational rights.
In Ebonyi State, Governor Sam Ominyi Egwu announced in Lagos on June 16, 1999, the introduction of free and compulsory primary and secondary education barely after two weeks after he was sworn in. After the introduction of the policy, the state House of Assembly enthusiastically passed the free and compulsory education bill into law and the implementation of the programme continued till date. The current introduction of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in Ebonyi state resulted to the current surge of children of varied talents and gifts, needs and demands. Thus, the inevitability of inclusive education which demands the teachers' preparedness to teach in such a program. The inclusive education model evolved out of the realization that all children have the right to receive the kind of education that does not discriminate on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, and other vulnerable groups.
The most crucial factor in the education system is the teacher since the quality of education in any country is reflected by the quality of English teachers. Tahir (2005:2) quoting Razik put it succinctly "the validity of any education especially inclusive education is dependent upon the quality and availability of competent teachers". The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN, 2004) noted that the future of any nation depends on the quality of educational system while the quality of any educational system depends on the quality of its teachers. Adekosan (2000) referred to the teacher as the spark and key man in the drive to progress in our educational enterprise. Therefore, quality education especially inclusive education "would depend on what and how the teachers teach which in turn depends on their knowledge, skills and commitment" (Tahir, 2005:2).
Ordinarily, if children have particular difficulties in school they are put together with other children whose needs are similar (Fredrickson and Cline, 2002). This allows special facilities and specially trained staff to be made available to those who need them.
However, in many western parts of the world, children with developed mental disabilities are being educated in inclusive classrooms at increasing rates (Kasari, Freeman, Bauminger and Alkin (1999). Garuba (2003) proposes that the readiness for acceptance of inclusion varies across countries and continents of the world. Countries within the advanced nations have gone beyond categorical provisions but Africa is still grappling with the problem of making provision for children with special needs especially those with handicaps. Despite the Nigerian government's visions to embark on inclusion, inclusion in Nigerian schools has had a very slow start and is presently not widely practiced in both public and private secondary schools. This may be partly due to a lack of collaboration between qualified special needs teachers and regular English language teachers as successful inclusion requires that personnel from general and special education collaborate as team members (Buell, Hallam, and Cormick(1999).
The teachers' roles are very vital in bringing about the desired or positive result for inclusive education, since according to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN 2004) no education system may rise above the quality of the teachers who operate the system. Teachers are the pivot on which the educational system revolves. They are the principal determinants of change and change in the education programs. Dareng (2005) defines the teacher as the person who works in schools providing education for learning. These teachers fill a complex set of roles to be mediators of learning, disciplinarians, parent substitute, judges of achievement, curriculum developers, researchers, and public servants. They are facilitators to change and progress in education programs.
Moreover, teachers' preparedness incorporates what the teachers bring to the classroom from pre-service training and on-the-job training. Teaching English language in inclusive classroom needs planning periods for team teaching, and regularly scheduled in collaboration with others as to exchange pedagogical and subject matter knowledge.
Teachers' preparedness is an important indicator of the extent to which they are committed to meet the challenges that characterize teaching in inclusive classrooms. Two components are important in teachers' preparedness: teachers' knowledge of the subject to be taught and knowledge and skills in how to teach the subject. Teachers' preparedness leads to teachers' effectiveness. Effective teachers understand and are able to apply strategies to help students with special needs increase achievement in learning English language. English language teachers ought to possess deep knowledge of the subject, an understanding of how the students with special needs learn, and an ability to use principles of teaching to stimulate the students' learning and achievement in English language. There are some key issues in teachers' preparedness:
- subject matter preparation
- pedagogical preparation
- Clinical training and
- Pre-service teacher education policies.
However, English teachers are now challenged by reform initiatives to meet new requirements that have not been part of the conventional repertoire of expectations for effective inclusive classroom teaching. This may be as a result of inadequate preparation during the teachers' professional training.
As a result, information about teachers' preparedness does not completely address whether pre-service and continued learning and work environment adequately prepare English teachers to meet the often and changing demands they face in their inclusive classrooms. English teachers' preparedness may indicate the extent to which their training prepares them to meet these challenges. The 1998 survey asked teachers especially the English teachers to indicate how well prepared they felt for some of the most compelling inclusive classroom demands as in pedagogical skills. The requirements were to:
- Maintain order and discipline in the classroom.
- Implement new methods of teaching the English language in inclusive classrooms like cooperative learning.
- Address the needs of students with special needs.
- Address the needs of the students with limited English proficiency or from diverse cultural backgrounds.
It may be observed that English teachers may feel "moderately" or "somewhat" well prepared for most inclusive classroom activities either in public or private secondary schools. In English teachers' preparedness, they are expected to make adaptations and accommodations to the curriculum, their instructional techniques, and evaluation procedures as well as their classroom behavior management styles..