Teachers' view on early childhood special education : A case of Livingstone
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the views of teachers on early childhood special education in basic schools of Livingstone district of Zambia. In the present study, early childhood special education referred to an educational arrangement in which learners with special educational needs have access to early childhood care and development facilities in our education system from pre¬school age. Studies undertaken in other countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and some parts of Europe and Africa have indicated that early childhood special education works well. This may be due to the fact that these nations have realized that early childhood special education, like any other education, pays off well in that these children find more success in later life. The study was therefore, carried out to investigate the nature of teachers' views on early childhood special education in the Livingstone district. The study had 110 respondents who participated in it. The respondents consisted of the head teachers (N = 11), basic school teachers (N=36); special education teachers (N=29); pre-school teachers (N=26) and high school teachers (N=8). Questionnaires and interviews were used to obtain information from respondents. Frequencies and percentages were used to analyse the quantitative data obtained. The responses from interviews were coded and grouped to establish the emerging themes in the study. The study found that teachers were in favour of early childhood special education. in In addition, the study established that type of training teachers underwent was not a potent factor in teachers' views on early childhood special education. Length of service of a teacher, educational resources and information on early childhood special education were significant in teachers' views on early childhood special education. Teachers preferred learners with mild and moderate special education needs to be included in mainstream facilities. The teachers indicated that learners with severe and profound special educational needs should be cared for in separate facilities in the education system. Arising from the results of this study, the present author therefore, would like to make the following recommendations for implementation: • The government needs to put in place a set of laws and policies including a rational plan of action for learners with special education needs that strongly support early childhood special educational care and development. • Localized training should be introduced to both pre-service and in-service teachers in order to support them with relevant skills and knowledge on early childhood special education through teacher training college curriculum and introductory short intensive courses run by colleges of education, standards officers and other stakeholders. • Existing facilities in ordinary schools such as classrooms, furniture, equipment, sanitation and the distribution of resources should be improved and strengthened to enable early childhood special education programmes to be run smoothly.