Management practices that affect the provision of quality Special Education in selected Districts of the Central Province of Zambia

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Mwenya, Nicholas Mwamba
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The University of Zambia
This study sought to establish the management practices that affected the provision of quality special education in Central Province of Zambia. Three districts in the province comprising fourteen special education units were purposively sampled according to their ability to provide required data. Furthermore Special Education Managers were purposively sampled from the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Headquarters to the schools. These included two Education Officers, five Standards Officers, one curriculum specialist, one examination specialist, three District Education Board Secretaries and fourteen Head teachers. Twenty eight teachers were also purposively sampled from the fourteen schools. These were teachers teaching in the special education units. A descriptive survey research design was used in the study. It gave the researcher an opportunity for the problem to be studied as it exists and within a proposed time frame. Semi- structured questionnaires, interview schedules and Focus Group discussion schedules were used as research instruments. In addition documents were analysed in order to establish what was on the ground in terms of provision of special education. The data collected were qualitatively analyzed using themes, tables, charts, graphs and photographs. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS). The overall analysis showed that in the Central Province (Kabwe, Mkushi and Mumbwa) special education was provided through Special Schools, Special Education Units and mainstream classes. Though inclusive education was said to be practiced, it was not practical since corresponding materials and facilities were not provided. The study also revealed that mainstreaming and inclusion were part of integration. It is therefore evident that what is being practiced in Central Province is integration hence the education system in Zambia had not reached the inclusion stage which is a more advanced stage than mainstreaming. On curriculum the study revealed that there was no need of advocating for a parallel curriculum for Children with Special Educational Needs. It is clear in the National Policy on Education that curriculum for children with special needs will be adapted from the existing one. Educational Guidance services were also not in place especially in subject selection by Children with Special Educational Needs. Furthermore, the study showed that the iv Examination Council of Zambia depended very much on the schools to be fed with inputs of would- be- candidates with Special Educational Needs. Over the years there had been lapses and not all children‟s needs were met. Data was misplaced and misinterpreted. In mainstream schools these children were unnoticed and wrote examinations without special consideration. Mainstreaming and inclusion were mistaken to mean the same. This was so because the school managers and teachers did not understand them fully. In principle what was practiced was inclusion but practically it was mainstreaming, Segregation in Special Schools and integration (social and functional). The policy on special needs education states that government will promote inclusive education by integrating learners with mild and moderate learning disabilities and provide special education to those who cannot be integrated. It was recommended that Education managers should identify management practices that may provide quality education and to evaluate management practices to implement those that can provide quality special education. A dual system and a balanced initiative in the provision of education to learners with special needs be adopted. That is Special schools and Units (segregation) and Inclusive settings. Furthermore, studies should be done in future in management of Special Education and its effects on learner performance. This is so because Special Education was not taken as a priority. Therefore, stakeholders should start attaching value to Special Education because without it general education was negatively affected in terms of learner achievement/performance.
School management and Organization--Zambia , Special Education--Zambia