Provision of early childhood education to children with special educational needs in selected inclusive primary schools of Kabwe district, Zambia
Mulunda, Malambo Twaambo
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Early Child Education (ECE) is important because it provides early experiences in the development of the child’s social, physical, cognitive, creative, moral and emotional capabilities and tends to have a long and lasting impact on the child in the later years. To this effect, this study sought to investigate the provision of early ECE to children with special educational needs (CSEN) in six selected primary schools in Kabwe District. The objectives of the study were to: investigate the availability of ECE for children with special educational needs, establish the benefits of ECE to children with special educational needs, ascertain the challenges faced in the provision of ECE to children with special educational needs and to establish the measures that have been put in place to overcome challenges faced by inclusive ECE centres in selected primary schools in Kabwe District. Qualitative approach and a descriptive research design were employed in the study. A sample of 25 participants was drawn from six selected schools. The sample comprised of 1 Standard Officer of Special Education (ESO-SP.ED), 6 head teachers, 12 ECE teachers and 6 parents and was purposively drawn from the six selected primary schools in Kabwe District. Un-structured questionnaires, face-face interviews and observation checklist were used to collect data from the participants and the data was analysed thematically based on the themes that emerged in the study. The findings of the study revealed that inclusive ECE programmes were being implemented in the six visited primary schools which had opened ECE centres. The numbers of learners with Special Educational Needs (SEN) were very minimal, ranging from mild to moderate challenges. Further, the study revealed the following benefits of inclusive ECE; CSEN were exposed to an early learning which smoothened the transition to grade one, early experiences improved academic outcomes, inclusion brought different families with CSEN together and amplifies children’s’ social, physical and cognitive abilities. Challenges identified were; Lack of friendly infrastructure, over enrolment, lack of trained specialised teachers, and inadequate awareness on inclusive education, unsuitable play grounds, inadequate materials and erratic funding. Measures that have been put in place to overcome the challenges faced by inclusive ECE were; fundraising ventures, sensitization of the community on inclusive ECE, teachers attending workshops on inclusive education, holding continuous professional development meetings and involving parents in school activities and training teachers in special education. The study recommended that the government should increase budgetary allocations towards ECE, more sensitization on inclusive education, more parental involvement in school activities and train all teachers in special education for inclusion to be a success.
- Education