Community and School partnerships in inclusive education: An evaluative study of Primary Schools in Kasama, Zambia

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Mandyata, Mwape Joseph
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The study evaluated community and school partnerships in the learning of children with and without disabilities in inclusive primary school settings in Kasama District, Zambia. Working within the framework of the Ecological Model of Child Development, the purpose of the study was to establish the type of parents‟ and teachers‟ partnerships in the learning of children existing in schools practising inclusive education. One hundred and eighty (180) respondents participated in the study, consisting of eighty-two (82) teachers; seventy (70) parents and twenty-eight (28) head teachers from selected parts of the district. Quantitative data was collected through use of self administered questionnaires while qualitative data was collected using face to face interviews. The quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to generate frequencies, percentages and Chi-Square test (χ2) used in the study. The qualitative data were analysed using inductive analysis method. This involved coding, categorisation and placing of information into themes. These actions resulted in the revelation of lone and summated variables that supported the findings of the present study. The study revealed that, although most of the head teachers, teachers and parents, favoured a partnership approach in the learning of children with and without disabilities in inclusive schools, there were significant differences in the way parents and teachers perceived or valued their collaborative partnerships in schools. Most of the parents and teachers who supported a partnership approach to learning of children, believed that partnerships positively contributed to school success; helped to increase access to education, promoted equalisation of educational opportunities; facilitated improvement in school infrastructure, led to social acceptance and changed attitude towards the learning of children. A small proportion of parents and teachers, however, disagreed with a partnership approach in the learning of children with and without disabilities in same classrooms and schools. Parents and teachers cited failure to meet goals and objectives of partnerships in the learning of children as evidenced by the continued existence of unfavourable legislation, policies and practices in education, ill–preparedness for partnerships, irregular interactions among stakeholders and indeed the increasing fears of government through the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MoESVTEE) abdicating its prime responsibility of meeting the learning needs of every child in schools as some of the reasons for not supporting a partnership approach in the promotion of inclusive school practices. Following these findings, the study recommended that, vii (i) parents and teachers should work together to address the barriers that have impeded the development and sustenance of a more proactive parents‟ and teachers‟ partnership in the learning of children in schools practising inclusive education; (ii) Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MoESVTEE) should provide parents and teachers with relevant knowledge and skills through school based seminars and workshops on partnerships in the learning of children; (iii) schools should take a leading role in the promotion of changed perceptions and values on parents‟ and teachers‟ partnerships by holding regular meetings, school open days, and encouraging home-school visitations, and (iv) teacher training institutions, should recognize the need for teachers to acquire knowledge and skills on how to work with homes, families and parents of children and incorporate partnership in inclusive education in teacher education curriculum
Inclusive education-Zambia , Education-Parent Participation