PERSPECTIVES OF THE TEACHERS TOWARDS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN NORTH COASTAL  ANDHRA REGION

 

ABSTRACT

The aim of the study was to assess the attitude of mainstream teachers towards inclusive education of children with special needs in   north coastal Andhra region. A total number of 500 mainstream school teachers from different districts of   north coastal andhra region were selected for this study from government, government-aided and private schools through purposive sampling. Identification and demographic information about mainstream school teachers were obtained by using specially designed data sheet Attitude assessment tool had been developed by the author was used to find out the attitude of the mainstream teachers towards inclusive education of children with special needs. Descriptive statistics like t-test, Pearson’s correlation (r) and ANOVA with post-hoc analysis (LSD) were used. The study indicated that female teachers having more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with special needs as compare to the male teachers. Teachers attended several programmers on inclusive education which enables them to improve or change the attitude on policy towards inclusive education. Whereas, the income of the mainstream school teachers w ere having less important role in changing the attitude of the teachers towards inclusive education of children with special needs. Further it could be concluded that, need based orientation and training programme should be provided to strengthen the teachers in terms of knowledge about disabilities and inclusive education to facilitate healthy interactions and relationships among teachers and the children with special needs. It is also suggested that more focus to be given on the rural mainstream school teachers in imparting the knowledge about disabilities towards inclusive education in   north coastal andhra region.

 Key words: Attitude, Inclusive Education, Mainstream teachers, Children with special needs.

Author: Dr. K. RAMU

Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam – 530003, e-mail: ramuspledu@gmail.com, Phone: 9441314128

Published in: Contemporary Researches in Education, Edited by Dr.Asha J.V. and Naseerali M.K.

 

INTRODUCTION

The debate on how to handle children with special needs (children with disabilities) has been raging since the traditional educational system began questioning the effectiveness of segregated institutions. Today, the struggle for ensuring the right to education for disabled children is an undeniable reality. Assuring the social integration of this largely excluded group can only begin when educational inclusion is practiced and ensured. By doing so, we can move closer to the goal of’Education for All1.

Current strategies and programmes have not been sufficient to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities who are particularly vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. In the past, efforts have consisted of specialized programmes, institutions and specialist educators. The unfortunate consequence of such differentiation, although well intended, has often been further exclusion. Education must be viewed as a facilitator in everyone’s human development and functionality, regardless of barriers of any kind, physical or otherwise. Therefore, disability of any kind (physical, social and/or emotional) cannot be a disqualifies Inclusion, thus, involves adopting a broad vision of Education for All by addressing the spectrum of need sofa 11 learners.

Integration, which began in the West, in the late seventies and early eighties, was spurred by a progressive educational ideology. The parallel system to traditional schooling that developed came to be known as Special Education. Such a pattern has been commonly observed in most countries. The second stage in this development has taken the form of Special Needs Education. Special Needs Education is a system of education for children with disabilities within ordinary schools (Lanier et a)., 1996). This form of education represents an effort to provide education in more ‘normal’ settings. However, a common characteristic of this provision of education is that it has been offered in special classes and not in cooperation with other’ mainstream’ children.Gradually voices clamored asking for integration in education and in the late sixties and seventies, the focus shifted to integration. Integration was understood as a gradual reform of the special education system without challenging the ideological underpinning of the system. This integration took many shapes, in some cases it was merely limited to sharing the same dining hall and in others it consisted of teaching groups of children with disabilities together with other children for several hours per week (Abrams, P. D., & Leyser, Y., 1983).

Inclusive education, which has its origins in special education, originally set out to meet the needs of learners who were being traditionally excluded from the school or were otherwise marginalized within the classroom (Mamlin, 1999). A series of shifts from focusing on the children with disabilities as a problem to focusing on changes in the management of the classroom revealed surprising changes in learning. The results demonstrated benefits to those who were traditionally excluded from learning as well as all the others in the classroom. Today inclusive education or ‘inclusion in education’ is a conceptual approach aimed at achieving quality education by making changes to accommodate all learners regardless of their physical, social or psychological differences.

Inclusion is seen as a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the – regular system to educate all children (Monahan & Marino, 1996) and the mainstream teachers play an important role in inclusive education of children with disabilities.

There has an evolutionary process in changing the attitude towards person with disabilities. In ancient days, disabled persons were rejected and even destroyed. The right of every child to education is proclaimed in the “Universal Declaration of Human Right (1950)” and was forcefully reaffirmed by the “World Declaration of Education for All (1990)”. Therefore, Universalization of primary education with equal opportunities (qualitative and quantitative) is accepted by all the governments as a human right.

Inclusive education preferably takes place in a regular class in the students nearest and regular school. Separation from the regular school environment whether partially or in exceptional cases fully occurs only where there is evidence that education in a regular class, accompanied by supplementary support and services, or else fail to meet the student’s educational, emotional and social needs. Inclusive education recognizes and responds to the diversity of children’s needs and disabilities including difference in their ways and pace of learning. It does so by using individualized teaching methods, adapted curricula as well as tailor made learning aids and materials.

Though the different efforts have been made by the Department of School Education, Government of   north coastal andhra region through SSA/ PBSSM for the successful implementation of inclusive education in   north coastal andhra region but with regards to the availability of the number of children with disabilities lots more to be done. Specially, while dealing with the children with disabilities, it is very essential that the mainstream teachers must be having knowledge towards disability and attitude to serve the best to the children with disabilities for their successful inclusion. Hence, the mainstream teacher’s needs are also to be assessed so

that they can work systematically. Very less evident are found which reflects that the kind of needs, knowledge and attitude is required to serve the children with special needs for successful inclusive education. Hence, the need was felt to conduct the study on mainstream teachers towards their needs, knowledge and attitudes towards inclusion of children with special needs in the present context of   north coastal andhra region.

To educate all the special need children in the mainstream, Integrated Education Programme for the Disabled (!ED) has started as a functional component under District Primary Education Programme (DPEP, 1994) and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA, 2000). To make inclusion of special need children successful in mainstream education programme, mainstream teachers’ attitude about disability and about their education in the mainstream education is an important factor. They need special training as well as barrier free environment (physical, social, emotional, economic, information, attitudinal, cognitive and instructional) and other important facilities for successful inclusion. Hence, it is very essential to study the attitudes of the mainstream teachers in three major dimensions, i.e., general, policy level and the management of the children with disabilities in the mainstream schools.

Considering the above mentioned facts about the present investigation, the researcher aims at studying the attitudes of the regular school teachers towards inclusive education of children with special needs in   north coastal andhra region.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

  1. To study the present scenario of inclusive education in north coastal andhra region.
  2. To study the governmental and non-governmental efforts in north coastal andhra region for inclusive education.
  3. To study the attitude of regular school teachers toward inclusive education.
  4. To develop a strategy for successful inclusive education in terms of special need children in north coastal andhra region.

SAMPLE

Total 500 regular school teachers of mainstream schools from different districts of   north coastal andhra region (25 teachers from each district) were selected for this study. Samples were taken from government, government-aided and private schools. Teachers were included through purposive sampling with informed consent with equal number of male and female mainstream teachers.

TOOLS

Demographic data sheet: A specially designed data sheet was used to collect the information about mainstream school teachers of   north coastal andhra region.

Attitude assessment tool had been developed by the author was used to find out the attitude of the mainstream teachers towards inclusive education of children with special needs. The tool contains 30 items under three domains, namely, general attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities, attitude towards policy on inclusive education of children with disabilities and attitude towards management in inclusive education of children with disabilities. Each statement of the scale provides a five-point scale and assigns each of the five options as scale value. The five points are, Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Uncertain, Agree, and Strongly Agree. The investigator used this scale for eliciting the opinions / information of the mainstream teachers in regard with their attitude towards children with special needs for inclusion in mainstream school. The responses to various statements were scored in such a way that a response indicative of the strongly disagree to strongly agree attitude. High the score represents the higher attitude of mainstream teachers towards inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream school.

DATA GATHERING PROCEDURE

Data were collected from all the twenty districts of   north coastal andhra region about the attitude of mainstream teachers towards inclusion of children with disabilities in general schools. Once the informed consent was obtained from the regular school teachers, socio-demographic details were collected on specially designed data sheet. Attitude assessment tool was administered on the regular school teachers in one session consisting 45 minutes. Teachers were requested to answer each statement freely without any hesitation and they have ensured the secrecy of their responds. Each and every teacher was contacted personally in the school setup. The purpose of the study was explained and they were requested to give their frank and appropriate responses. The respondents were also requested not to leave any item unanswered and incomplete.

STATISTICS

Statistical analysis had been done by using SPSS for Windows (Version 10.0). Descriptive statistics like t-test, Pearson’s correlation (r) and ANOVA with post-hoc analysis (LSD) were used as per their basic assumption to find out significant differences within the groups of mainstream teachers towards inclusion in different areas, such as general attitude towards disability, policy land management and its relationship with their gender, age, education, experience, occupation, income and place and type of school.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The success of inclusive education programmes for the children with disabilities to a large extent depends on the mainstream teacher’s needs, knowledge and attitude to deal children who are challenged in the regular classroom. The organizational, teaching, learning and guidance and counseling activities should be tuned to meet the individual need of the learners. It is natural that knowledge leads to formation of better attitudes and if the needs can be satisfied in dealing the children with disabilities in the classroom, leads to successful inclusion.

Placement of the children with disabilities with normal child in normal schools is nothing but the provision of least restrictive environment for the children with disabilities (PWD Act, 1995). This approach helps the children with disabilities to grow and develop like other normal children. It promotes healthy social relationships between normal and the children with disabilities by enhancing their growth and development on par with their normal peers. It gives an opportunity to participate in all academic and non-academic activities in the school as well as in the society. It reduces the psychological problems of the children with disabilities which further leads to good mental and physical health.

Basic readiness skills are required to include the children with disabilities more effectively in normal schools. The mainstream school teachers require multi- talents to play diversified roles to handle these children with disabilities in the normal classroom.

Special techniques are used only in case of children with severe disabilities and for developing only the basic academic skills. The mildly disabled do not require such special skills and require only modifications in the instruction. After learning special skills even the severely disabled can be educated in regular schools with suitable assistive devices. Special educational needs of most of the children with disabilities can be met effectively in mainstream schools, which in turn lead for better inclusive education practices. After the through research study, the major findings are listed below.

MAJOR FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

  1. The study indicated that 61% teachers having below average attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities followed by 31% having above average attitude and 08% having average attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities.
  2. The study indicated that the mainstream teacher’s education had significantly positive correlation in relation with general information, causes and management of the disability towards the inclusion of the children with disabilities. As the mainstream teachers gaining the knowledge towards disability and their management through different programmes conducted by SSA and also the special education paper has been added in curriculum of B.Ed, and M.Ed, courses.
  3. Study indicated that female teachers have more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities as compared to the male teachers in the area of ‘general attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities’ and attitude towards management of children with disabilities. This indicates that the nature of female towards the children or kids is more acceptable. That is the reason female teachers are having more positive attitude towards the inclusive education of children with disabilities.
  4. This study revealed that there is no significant difference in the attitude of the mainstream school teachers towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to the age of the teachers. However, the study also reflects that the teachers whose age is more than 40 years is having more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities.
  5. The finding of the study indicated that the education plays an important and vital role in adjusting and accepting the reality and facts of the society. And the human being thinks more for the societal developments compare to the self centered.
  6. The findings indicated that teachers attending several programmes on inclusive education of children with disabilities which enables the teachers to improve or change the attitude on policy towards inclusive education of children with disabilities. So it can, be said that as the experiences increases, attitude on policy towards inclusive education of children with disabilities also increased.
  7. This study indicated that the income is having less important role in changing the attitude of the teachers towards inclusive education of children with disabilities.
  8. This indicated that the urban teachers are more aware about the condition of disabilities as compared to the rural primary school teachers. Due to awareness, their general attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities is more positive as compared to the rural primary school teachers. So, focus to be given on the training of the rural primary school teachers on orientation and training programme towards inclusive education of children with disabilities.
  9. This study indicated that the teachers from private schools have more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities as compared to the government school teachers.
  10. The finding of the study indicated that the mainstream teacher’s education had significantly positive correlation in relation with general attitude and policy level attitude towards the inclusion of the children with disabilities. This shows that education of the mainstream teachers play an important role in changing the attitude of the teachers towards inclusion of the children with disabilities in the mainstream school.

 

 

Inclusive education means, the full inclusion of children with diverse abilities in all aspects of schooling and that schools should accommodate all children regardless of their abilities or disabilities (Loreman, Deppeler, & Harvey, 2005; Loreman, Forlin, & Sharma, 2007; Rogers, 1993). The literature shows that all children no matter how severe their disabilities are or how intensive their needs are belong in the general education classroom and can be accommodated in the regular class in their neighborhood schools, the schools they would be attending if they did not have a disability (Jenkinson, 1997; Peters, 2003; Smith, Polloway, Patton, & Dowdy, 2008).

 

Teacher’s attitude towards children with disabilities is major and important aspects in the education of children with disabilities. Right type of teacher with right type of attitude can do better justice to the children with disabilities. Hence, research on the teacher attitude paves way for better promotion of education of the children with disabilities.

The study indicated that female teachers having more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities as compared to the male teachers (Prochnow, et al., 2000) in the areas of ‘general attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities’ and attitude towards management of children with disabilities. This indicates that the nature of female towards the children or kids is more acceptances that are the reason female teachers are having more positive attitude towards the inclusive education of children with disabilities. However, there was no significant difference in the attitude of the mainstream school teachers towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to the age of the teachers. Though the study reflected that there was no significant difference but teachers whose age were more than 40 years, have more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities. The finding of the study indicated that the education plays an important and vital role in adjusting and accepting the reality and facts of the society and the human being thinks more for the societal development as compare to the self centered.

Teachers attended several programmes on inclusive education of children with disabilities which enables them to improve or change the attitude on policy towards inclusive education of children with disabilities (Nanda & Nanda, 2007). So it can be said that, as the experiences increases, attitude of the mainstream towards inclusive education of children with disabilities also increased. Whereas, the income of the mainstream teachers were having less important role in changing the attitude of the teachers towards inclusive education of children with disabilities. However, teachers from urban areas were more aware about the condition of disabilities as compare to the rural primary school teachers. Due to awareness their general attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities is more positive as compare to the rural primary school teachers. So, focus to be given on the training of the rural primary school teachers on orientation and training programme towards inclusive education of children with disabilities. This study also indicated that the teachers from private schools have more positive attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities as compare to the government school teachers. The finding of the study indicated that the mainstream teacher’s education had significantly positive correlation in relation with general attitude and policy level attitude towards the inclusion of the children with disabilities. This shows that education of the

mainstream teachers play an important role in changing the attitude of the teachers towards inclusion of the children with disabilities in the mainstream school.

Further it could be concluded and suggested that, need based orientation and training programme should be provided to strengthen the teachers in terms of knowledge about disabilities and inclusive education to facilitate healthy interactions and relationships among teachers and the children with disabilities. It is suggested that more focus to be given on the rural mainstream school teachers in imparting the knowledge about disabilities towards inclusive education in   north coastal Andhra region.

Table 1: Identification and Demographic Details of Mainstream Teachers (N=500)

 

Areas (n) (%)
Gender Male 250 50.0
Female 250 50.0
Age Below 30 years 252 50.4
31-40 years 132 26.4
Above 40 years 116 23.2
Education Graduation 314 62.8
PG 135 27.0
PG with B.Ed. 51 10.2
Experience Less than 5 years 353 70.6
5-10years 50 10.0
Above 10 years 97 19.4
Income of Teachers Less than Rs. 5000/- 267 53.4
Rs. 5001-10000/- 129 25.8
Above Rs. 10000/- 104 20.8
Place of School Rural 139 27.8
Urban 137 27.4
Semi Urban 224 44.8
Type of School Govt. 73 14.6
Govt. Aided 52 10.4
Private 375 75.0

 

Table 2 showing the attitude of mainstream teachers towards inclusive education of children with disabilities (N=500)

 

Category Frequency Percentage
Above average attitude 155 31.0
Average attitude 40 8.0
Below average attitude 305 61.0
TOTAL 500 100.0

 

Table 3 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to the gender of the teacher

 

Attitude towards inclusive education Male n=250 Female n=250 t value (df=498)
M±S D M±SD
General 35.23 ±12.17 58.92 ± 13.81 5.63 “
Policy 18.69 ±4.25 20.92 + 4.91 0.77
Management 18.04 ±4.11 24.35 ± 5.47 4.96 **

** p < 0.01, *p <0.05

 

Table 4 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of disabilities with respect to the age of the teacher

 

Attitude towards inclusive education Group 1 n=252 Group II n=132 Group III n=116 ANOVA

(df = 2)

LSD
M±SD M±SD M±SD    
General 38.40±10.60 37.60±11.10 39.60±15.38 0.52  
Policy 20.14±7.21 18.10±6.29 21,84±7.37 0.42  
Management 13.14±3.21 15.10±4.29 16.84±0.57 0.28  

“p <0.01, *p <0.05

Group I = Teachers age below 30 years.

Group II = Teachers age from 31-40 years.

Group 111 = Teachers age above 40 years.

Table 5 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to education of teachers

 

Attitude towards inclusive education Group I n=314 Group il n=135 Group III n=51 ANOVA (df = 2) LSD
  M±SD M±SD M±SD    
General 30.27±8.59 36.54 ±10.34 45.6 ±13.76 5.61** lll>ll
Policy 24.22±6.76 31.33±9.33 36.21±10.21 4.35** lll>l, ll>l
Management 18.31 ±4.31 21.12±6.06 22.16±6.21 1.87  

**p <0.01, *p< 0.05

Group I = Teachers Education upto Graduate.

Group II = Teachers Education upto Post Graduate.

Group III = Teachers Education upto Post Graduate with B.Ed.

 

Table 6 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of disabilities with respect to experience of teachers

 

Attitude towards inclusive education Group 1 n-353 Group II n=50 Group III n=97 ANOVA (df = 2) LSD
  M±SD M±SD M±SD    
General 33.50±9.36 38.43±13.32 44.40± 14.94 2.22  
Policy 23.54±6.78 33.32±10.41 38.37±12.35 3.74** ll>l, lll>l
Management 14.38±4.37 12.24±2.46 17.89±5.79 1.14  

** p < 0.01, *p< 0.05

Group I = Teachers experience upto 5years.

Group 11 = Teachers experience upto 10 years.

Group III = Teachers experience above 10 years.

 

Table 7 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to Income of the teacher

Attitude towards inclusive education Group I n=267 Group II n=129 Group III n=104 ANOVA df = 2) LSD
M±SD M ±SD M±SD    
General 25.69±6.43 28.22±9.23 32.34±10.14 2.05  
Policy 20.14±7.21 18.10+6.29 21.84±7.37 0.42  
Management 18.45±5.97 16.25±5.34 17.35±5.42 0.79  

**p<0.01,*p<0.05

Group I =Teachers income upto Rs. 5000. Group 11=Teachers income from Rs. 5001 -10000.

Group III =Teachers income above Rs.10000.

 

Table 8 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of children with Disabilities with respect to place of school

Attitude towards ” inclusive education Rural & Suburban n=363 Urban n=137 t value (df = 498)
  M±S D M±SD  
General 33.42 ± 9.97 49.87 ±11.65 4.89 **
Policy 19.89 ±4.72 21.34 ±5.04 0.98
Management 19.74 ±4.69 28.44 ± 6.56 4.78 “
 

” p <0.01 ,*p< 0.05

 

 

 

 

 

 
Table 9 showing the mainstream school teacher’s attitude towards inclusive education of children with disabilities with respect to type of school

 

Attitude towards inclusive education Government and Government aided n=125 Private n=375 t value (df = 498)
  M±SD M±SD  
General 36.44 ± 10.05 40.15 ± 11.34 1.39
Policy 17.45 ±3.97 19.34 ±4.54 0.84
Management 15.12 ± 3.12 21.81 ±5.21 4.96 “

** p < 0.01 ,*p< 0.05

 

Table 10 Showing the relationship between the education of the mainstream teacher and their attitude towards inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream school

 

Areas Education
General 1 Policy

Management

0.372** 0.290″ 0.043

 

** p< 0.01, *p <0.05

 

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