Parental involvement in the education of intellectually challenged children : A case of selected special units in Lusaka District

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Mulonda - Nzala, Alice
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The study sought to establish whether parents were involved in the education of their intellectually challenged children, and if so to what extent. A sample of seventy- three (73) respondents was used. The sample comprised fifty-six (56) parents / care givers of the intellectually challenged children, twelve (12) special education teachers of the intellectually challenged pupils and five (5) head teachers of the schools hosting the Special Units in the five selected Basic Schools in Lusaka District.Five separate focus group discussions (FGD)were held with parents for collection of in-depth data, while a semi-structured questionnaire was administered to teachers and head teachers for validation of FGDs with parent data. From the study it is evident that there were no laid down procedures and a clearly written policy in Special Units on parental involvement in the education of their intellectually challenged children. Parents were also not consulted on the curriculum planning for their children. This in turn has had some negative impact on the learning of these children. The findings also showed that parents were involved in the education of their children only minimally. The involvement mainly consisted of attendance at the School Open Days.. In addition, helping with children's homework, provision of teaching and learning materials and children's' refreshments to a much smaller extent constituted the level of involvement by the parents. The study also revealed that there were quite a number of barriers that hindered the parents from being involved in the education of their intellectually challenged children. The most prominent were negative attitudes towards the children by the parents themselves and lack of skills to apply in their quest to help their children. The researcher therefore, makes recommendations to be addressed by school managers, Ministry of Education and parents as follows: school managers hosting Special Units should: clearly specify in writing procedures through which parents would be involved in the education of their intellectually challenged children; provide a flexible curriculum that would be appropriate to the needs of children who were intellectually challenged; institute home work policies in the Special Units in consultation with the parents in order to provide avenues for parental involvement; conduct school based workshops for parents of intellectually challenged children; conduct in-service training for mainstream teachers who handle the intellectually challenged children; identify local community based organisations and parent support groups for possible linkages with the Special Units and parents as a whole. The Ministry of Education should formulate clear policies that would stipulate parents' rights and responsibilities in the education of their intellectually challenged children in Special Units; provide a guideline on the formulation of Individual Education Plans to special education in-service teachers that would be practical and suitable to the Zambian situation, through which parents would participate in deciding learning priorities for their children; initiate dialogue with the Department of Technical Educational Vocational and Entrepreneur Training Authority (TEVETA) at the Ministry of Science and Technology, to facilitate admittance of intellectually challenged children at reduced fees in recognisant of the plant, machinery and equipment in their institutions that were initially funded by donors for the benefit of the intellectually challenged children who were currently excluded through the charging of commercial rates.Schools should mount occasional sensitisation workshops for parents in order to foster positive attitudes towards their intellectually challenged children. The study is organised in six chapters. Chapter one consists of a synopsis of the background to the study, the statement to the problem, the main objective, significance of the study, and definitions of operational terms used in the study. Chapter two is a review of related literature. Chapter three consists of the methodology, while chapter four consists of study results.Discussion of the results is presented in chapter five. Chapter six presents conclusions and recommendations.
Slow learning children , Mentally handicapped children.