Financing of special education in Zambia: an exploration of the current practice in Southern Province

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Mainza, Chindolo Ferdinand
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The University of Zambia
This study was an exploration of the current practice in financing Special Education in Zambia, with special focus on Southern Province involving five districts with either a Special School or Special Unit in public Secondary Schools. The study explored the available financing practices in Special Education. It also identified factors that influenced the current financing practice in Special Education. The study also ascertained the implication of the current financing practices on the provision of quality education to Learners with Special Education Needs (LSENs). A descriptive survey design was employed which involved both qualitative and quantitative techniques in data collection, analysis and presentation. The data collection instruments were: semi-structured questionnaires, Interview Guide, Observation Checklist and Desk Review. The sample size was 77 participants composing 35 parents, 26 teachers, 9 school administrators and 7 District Officials as participants, selected using purposive sampling techniques. Data obtained from closed ended questions were analysed using descriptive statistics in SPSS where frequencies tables were produced. Qualitative data were classified and thematically analysed. The study findings were; the current financing practice in Special Education had the following sources of funding: the government through GRZ education grants, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) through user fees, parents of children with Special Education needs, direct cooperating partners with schools or with individual children such as British Council, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Spar Choma, Catholic sisters, and other well-wishers in adherence to Educating our Future-National Policy of 1996. The study established that for the years 2015 and 2016 government funding to the education sector was above the 4.2 % of GDP Sub-Sahara Africa benchmark but Special Education received between K263 ($26.3) and K1,212 ($121.2) at school level. The study further revealed that the budgeting process in Special Education did not recognise the needs of LSENs, it lacked financing models for Special Education, and also lacked collaboration as well as harmonisation among funders. The study found out that: the attitude of parents and teachers did not influence allocation of funds in Special Education. Further, the parents’ level of education, the occupation of parents and sources of income of parents did not influence financing of Special Education. Furthermore, the study findings confirmed that the current financing practice had implications on the provision of quality education by restricting infrastructure expansion, available teaching and learning materials as well as restricting improved staffing levels of specialised and assisting Special Education personnel. The study proposes that the government may allocate funding specifically to Special Education at National level. It also proposes financing model to Special Education with guidelines to ensure collaboration among participating funders who were; the government, PTA, parents and other well-wishers. Finally, the government should meaningfully embark on community engagement and reinforce the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) towards Special Education financing.
Special education--Finance--Zambia , Children with disabilities--Education--Finance--Zambia