Effects of teachers' attitudes on the academic performance of pupils with learning difficulties in selected high schools of Northern Province of Zambia
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Learners with special educational needs are found at all levels of education delivery. Between ten and fifteen percent of all learners in ordinary schools have special educational needs. This therefore means that these learners must be catered for within the ordinary school by ordinary schoolteachers. Teachers' attitudes towards this category of learners may have a significant impact on their academic performance.This study analysed effects of teachers' attitudes on the academic performance of pupils with learning difficulties in selected mainstream high schools of Northern Province. This study addressed itself to three major questions. These were: (i) what were teachers attitudes towards pupils with learning difficulties? (ii) What effects did these attitudes have on the academic performance of pupils with learning difficulties? (iii) What factors influenced teachers' attitudes towards pupils with learning difficulties? A survey method was used to collect data from respondents. The sample population came from six high schools in four districts of the Northern Province of Zambia. Sixty grade eleven and twelve pupil respondents were selected by purposeful sampling to participate in the study. A total of thirty six teachers were selected using a stratified proportionate random sampling procedure in order to ensure equal gender representation. All together the total sample population was ninety six. The following research instruments were used to collect data from respondents; a self administered questionnaire, semi-structured interview and focus group discussion schedules.Data was analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Frequency distributions, percentages, and tables were obtained using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). Non-structured questions were analysed through categorisation of themes. The general findings of the study were: . that both male and female teachers held negative attitudes towards pupils with learning difficulties. • It was also established that teachers attitudes towards pupils with learning difficulties negatively affected the academic performance of these pupils. • Further, the study established that large classes and lack of training in special education were contributing factors for teachers' negative attitudes towards pupils with learning difficulties. The study recommended that: • In view of the government policy of inclusive schooling, it will be incumbent upon every ordinary high school teacher to carter for pupils with disabilities. This being the case, government should consider expanding the training of teachers in special /inclusive education as a way of equipping them with skills to deal with learning difficulties. • The curriculum of teacher training colleges should include a full course in special / inclusive education (not only as a segment of the educational courses as the case is at the moment) so that every trainee teacher is equipped adequately with special education methodologies as a way of preparing them for the task of dealing with pupils with learning difficulties in ordinary high schools. • The office of special education coordinator should be set up in high schools so as to provide a resource centre where pupils with learning difficulties can receive counsel, assessment of their specific learning problems and eventually the drawing up of individualised education programmes aimed at meeting their special educational needs. • Head teachers should come up with human resource development programmes that would allow teachers access to training so as to keep up with current trends of teaching and learning.
- Education