Social and academic experiences of learners with low vision in selected inclusive secondary schools of Lusaka and Mbala districts,Zambia
This study sought to investigate the social and academic experiences of learners with low vision in selected inclusive schools in Lusaka and Mbala Districts. The objectives of the study were to establish the social experiences of learners with low vision in selected rural and urban inclusive secondary schools, to assess academic experiences that have characterized the learning of learners with low vision in rural and urban secondary schools, to establish perceptions of Head Teachers, Heads of Departments, teachers, sighted and learners with low vision on the social and academic experiences of the learners with low vision in schools, to explore the interventions instituted to improve social and academic experiences of learners with low vision in inclusive secondary schools. The study was qualitative in nature and used a case study design. There were 38 participants consisting of 12 learners with low vision, 12 sighted learners, 10 teachers, 2 head teachers and 2 heads of departments. Purposive sampling was used to select head teachers and heads of departments (HoDs), teachers and learners with low vision while simple random was used to select sighted learners. Data from learners was collected using Focus Group Discussions while that from head teachers, heads of departments and teachers was collected through interviews. Qualitative data was analysed thematically. This involved coding and categorizing of data to generate themes which were presented descriptively. The findings on social experiences showed that the attitude of some teachers and some sighted learners towards learners with low vision was negative. Learners with low vision were not easily accepted in schools. During FGDs both sighted and learners with low vision indicated that learners with low vision were often discriminated, teased and bullied in the mainstream environment and found it difficult to participate in social activities. On the academic experiences of learners with low vision it was found that there was lack of specialized teachers, lack of learning and teaching materials, lack of coordination between specialized and ordinary teachers as well as no extra time given to learners with low vision which tended to compromise their learning. It was evident from the findings that most teachers and sighted learners perceived learners with low vision as pretenders while head teachers and heads of departments did not. Interventions that the schools instituted to improve the social and academic experiences of learners with low vision included: sensitization of school administrators teachers and learners, creation of social environment acceptable to all, frequent sourcing of learning materials and advocacy for inclusion of learners with low vision in schools and communities. In view of the findings, it was recommended that head teachers of schools should strengthen sensitization of learners and teachers on social life of LLV to stop stigmatization. The Ministry of General education (MoGE) should provide instructional materials and equipment to support academic life of learners with low vision in inclusive schools.
- Education