The purpose of the study was to investigate the determinants of the perceptions of teachers on the inclusion of learners with disabilities in regular primary schools of Central and Anseba Regions of Eritrea. The objectives of the study were to establish teachers’ perception on the implementation of inclusive education in regular primary schools; and to examine the impact of demographic factors, teaching- learning resources, and school administrative support on teachers’ perceptions of inclusion for learners with disabilities in regular primary schools of Central and Anseba regions of Eritrea. The proposed study was guided by Heider and Kelley’s “attribution theory” of perception. The study used descriptive research design, targeting (650) teachers and (28) head teachers in (28) regular primary schools of Central and Anseba regions, Eritrea. Purposive sampling technique was employed to select a sample of (6) regular primary schools from the two regions of the country, (6) head teachers and (120) regular primary school teachers. The study utilized a questionnaire and interview guide for data collection. Questionnaires were administered to regular primary school teachers, while an interview was conducted to head teachers. A pilot study conducted in one primary school in the Central region. The validity of the instruments was assured by extensive discussions with supervisors and through piloting. The test-retest technique was applied to ensure the reliability of the instruments, and the correlation coefficient of r=0.87 achieved. Qualitative data collected were analyzed thematically based on the research objectives. Quantitative data collected from the questionnaires were also coded, entered, edited, and analyzed using SPSS version 20 for windows, tests of ANOVA, t-test and Pearson correlation were applied. Data presented in the form of text, charts, graphs, tables, and figures. The study findings revealed that regular primary school teachers have a positive perception of including learners with disabilities. However, the knowledge base and practice of inclusive education was very low. Findings further revealed that young age groups, trained teachers and teachers who have experience with learners with disabilities showed positive perceptions towards inclusive education than old, untrained and non-experienced teachers. Finally, inadequate teaching and learning resources and lack of school administrative support have a detrimental effect on the regular primary school teachers’ perception. The study concluded that regular primary school teachers have a positive perception of inclusive education. However, lack of training and inadequate resources mainly influenced teacher perception toward the practice of inclusive education. The study recommended that there is an urgent need for pre- service and in-service training of regular primary school teachers. For successful inclusion, schools should be equipped with adequate teaching and learning resources.
INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXTUALIZATION OF THE STUDY
This chapter presents the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose, objectives, research questions, and assumptions of the study, limitations and delimitations of the study, significance of the study, theoretical and conceptual frameworks and lastly the operational definition of key terms used in the study.
Background to the Study
Education is the fundamental human right, and it is crucial for the implementation of other human rights. Nevertheless, “75 million children of primary school age are not in school; seven out of ten live in Sub-Saharan Africa or South and West Asia… one-third of these are children with disabilities” (UNESCO, 2009, p. 5).
Children with disabilities have the right to benefit from educational services which will meet their needs in the best way. Nonetheless, the needs of individuals are different; and the context in which they fulfil their individual needs often differs. The Service delivery model is shifting from segregation which is operated by isolation of learners with disabilities from the mainstream school system in a special class or school, through integration, helping the learner with disabilities to fit to the existing school system and finally to a point where inclusion is central to contemporary discourse (Mitchell, 2010).
The concept of inclusion in recent years has been expanded to include disadvantaged learners besides learners with disabilities. UNESCO (2009) has defined inclusive education as: “an on-going process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination” (UNESCO, 2009, p. 126).
Essentially, the quality of education depends mostly on the quality of its teachers. Inclusive education is one of the best practices, but yet, so challenging for many teachers. Research findings from the Bahamas, Ghana and Kenya showed that teachers are not well-prepared for inclusion, and their perception towards including learners with disabilities also influence the movement towards inclusion (Hunter- Johnson, Newton, & Cambridge-Johnson, 2014; Newton, Hunter-Johnson, Gardiner-Farquharson, & Cambridge, 2014; Odongo & Davidson, 2016; Ocloo & Subbey, 2008).
De Boer, Jan Pijl, and Minnaert (2011) advocated that effective inclusive education practice mainly depends on teachers’ acceptance of the inclusive education philosophy. A research conducted in Europe to review the literature of 26 studies stipulated that perception of teachers’ towards including learners with disabilities should be investigated to improve the systems of education since paucities within the education system also negatively impact teachers’ perception (De Boer et al., 2011).