The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education

The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education
The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education

The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education



The main purpose of the study was to examine the perception and attitude of regular teacher towards inclusive education. Research questions and research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. A descriptive survey method was adopted for the study. The population for this study is made up of all the secondary school teachers in the study area.   A multi-stage sampling procedure was adopted in the selection of participants. Six public schools were selected using stratified random sampling. Simple random sampling was used to select one hundred and forty (140) regular school teachers and sixty (60) special education teachers that participated in the survey. A three-part, self-designed instrument tagged “Teachers’ Perception and Attitude towards Inclusive Education Questionnaire (TPATIEQ)” was used for data collection.

The data collected was analyzed using frequency count, simple percentage, mean and standard deviation and t-test. The findings of the study revealed that the majority of the regular school teachers have positive perception and attitude towards inclusive education. It also revealed that, the majority of regular school teachers have positive perception of and attitude towards inclusion irrespective of school status.


The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education



1.1       Background to the Study

The importance of education to the development of individuals and the society at large is well known. It is in recognition of this importance that the international community and governments all over the world have made commitments to the provision of free education to all citizens as a legal right (Akinbote, Oduolowu  &  Lawal, 2011). The right to education, as a universal right, extends to all children in all parts of the world, including those with special needs. This right is affirmed by the introduction of inclusion; the full-time placement of children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in the general education classroom with the aim of addressing and responding to their diversity of needs, and increasing their participation in teaching -learning process.

Many international agreements, conventions and declarations have consistently supported this obligatory goal. Examples of these agreements, conventions, and declarations, include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF, 1989), the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Special needs (United Nations, 1993), the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994), and the Dakar Framework for Action (2000); Education for All. These international pronouncements and declarations have greatly influenced government policies on the education of children with special needs worldwide, especially in the developing countries.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1990) are more explicit compared to other pronouncements. IDEA is a law ensuring that states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with special needs in the least restrictive environment. In many cases, the least restrictive environment is one that involves placement of learners with special needs into educational programmes with typically developing children to the maximum extent appropriate (Giffing, Warnick, Tarpley& William, 2010).

Meanwhile, experience, observation and documents have shown that in Nigeria, there are inequalities in educational access and achievement as well as high levels of absolute educational deprivation of children in which children with special needs suffer the most. In the existing modern education practice in Nigeria, children with special needs are still experiencing exclusion, discrimination and segregation from mainstream education as their peers. Some are placed in separate classes or schools; many have been denied access to education of any sort. Oyundoyin (2013) noted that person with special needs face both natural and artificial exclusion. Negative cultural or social attitudes towards disability result in some parents not wanting to be associated with a child with a special need because of the stigma. Additionally the responsibility of bringing children with special needs to schools rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents (Hull, 2005).

Special schools are often, therefore, considered an ideal place to “hide” such children (Myers & Bagree, 2011). For equity sake, the most rewarding thing to do for a child with special need is to give him/her every educational opportunity possible that is provided by reputable mainstream institutions. From every standpoint, whether that of human rights, economic efficiency or social desirability, the national interest should be to serve children with special needs equally with all others. This process of education is also known as inclusion and it is vital from the beginning stages of a child’s education (Gemmell-Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994).

The concept of inclusion became popular in the 21st century as a result of the focus on “Education for All (EFA)” demands and the fundamental principle of EFA that all children should have equal opportunity to learn and should be provided with quality education (Oduolowu, 2011).

Inclusion in its strongest form requires that all students should be taught in regular classrooms all the time, receiving whatever forms of help they need to succeed for them in the regular classroom (Good & Brophy, 2008). It refers to the full-time placement of children with mild, moderate and severe disabilities in regular classrooms. It also caters for the marginalized group but the principal focus is on children with obvious physical or neurological learning disabilities. The inclusion movement believes that children with special needs should be placed in the regular school classroom, which they would have otherwise attended, if they had been normal children.

In recent years, with over 10% or 650 million people around the world living with special needs (United Nations, 2011) of which 150 million children live with special needs (United Nations; 2011, UNESCO, 2010). Over 80% of these children live in developing countries where their disabilities often exclude them from full participation in society with most of them not having the opportunity to go to school, obtain gainful employment, and make a home and family (UNESCO, 2000).

The debate about inclusion has moved from high -income countries like the United States of America, Canada, Australia and Japan to a low-income country like Nigeria, where an official policy on education states that, access to education shall be provided and inclusion or integration of special classes and units into ordinary/public schools under universal basic education scheme (National Policy on Education, 2004). In practice however, it is only Lagos State out of thirty-six States that has actually started the implementation of the inclusion at the primary school level. Other states of the federation in Nigeria are just starting up by creating a unit in each of the schools for their inclusive classrooms (Fakolade, Adeniyi and Tella, 2009).

Including children with special needs in general education can provide them with the opportunity to learn in natural, stimulating settings, which may also lead to increased acceptance and appreciation of differences (Ajuwon, 2008). If children attend preschool education earlier, their skills and progress will be higher. For this reason, the inclusion should not be ignored in preschool education too. Thus, this will provide the socialization and make adaptation to the society easier. Also, children without disabilities could have a lot to gain from being included with their peers who have special needs in inclusive classrooms, in that they are better able to accept differences and are able to see their classmates achieving despite their special needs. They also seem to be more aware of the needs of others. Studies have shown that typical children in inclusive settings show an increased ability to help their peers (Ronnie, 2012).

The issue of inclusion in Early Childhood and Primary Education in Nigeria is of great concern, for it has pedagogical implication and it poses a great challenge to early childhood educators. Ronnie (2012) asserts that enrolment in a classroom together is not enough to secure the benefits of inclusion. It is very important that the professionals structure the classroom environment and implement a curriculum that supports all children.

The factor that continued to evoke fears and inhibitions is the consequences of lack of teachers’ inclusion related quality necessary for practice on the affected children. Hull (2005) has empirically demonstrated that teachers’ acceptance and positive attitudes are necessary if integration into the general education classroom and the implementation of educational intervention is to be effective and successful.

Research has suggested that teachers’ perceptions and attitudes toward inclusion affect the successful implementation of inclusion. Burke and Sutherland (2004) report a significant correlation between teachers‟ knowledge of disabilities and their perceived ability to educate them. Teachers who have not taught in inclusive classroom often fear that they lack specialized expertise that will enable them to successfully implement inclusion policies (Good & Brophy, 2008).

Teachers’ disposition and reaction to education of children with special needs has been a subject for discussion for decades, in their study, Center and Ward (1987) surveyed regular and special education teachers on their attitudes toward integration of students with special needs. Overall, a negative attitude was displayed toward integrating students with behavioural or educational special needs.

Favourable attitudes were exhibited only toward mainstreaming students whose disability did not require extra effort on the part of the teacher (Good & Brophy, 2008). Similarly, Heron and Harris (2001) stated that teachers are more critical of the behaviour of students with special needs, provide fewer praise statements to these students, and consider them less desirable as students as compared with regular education students. Asim (2012) in his study on pre-service teachers’ working in mainstream primary school compared to their special school counterpart, found that the teachers have positive attitude to inclusion due to increase in awareness of the programme, administrative support, teaching aids, collaboration with others and improved resource allocation.

It is evident from the foregoing discussion that teachers are crucial to the success of inclusion programme. This gives rise to the need to explore their perception of and attitude towards the programme in Nigeria where there is policy document is available but supported is for practise is limited or not existing. Moreover, few studies have directly investigated teachers’ perception of and attitude towards inclusion of children with special needs particularly at the pre-primary and primary school levels in Nigeria. This investigation is therefore a response to the need for empirical evidence regarding the regular and segregated pre-primary and primary school teachers’ perception of and attitudes towards inclusion of children with special needs in regular schools.

The Perception and Attitude of Regular Teacher towards Inclusive Education

1.2     Statement of the Problem

There is no gainsaying that, the perception and attitude of educator towards students living with disabilities can either be positive or negative. Teachers do not feel that they are prepared or competent to teach both regular learners and learners with special educational needs. The main reason is that they did not have sufficient training to deal with these inclusive educational activities. It is an underline the fact that teachers who have an opened perception over the inclusion are more confident in their own abilities to implement the inclusive education.

However, the previous studies support the idea that teachers perceive students with behavioural or emotional disorders as being more difficult to work with in the classroom than the other children with different disabilities (Chhabra et al., 2010). There are many mainstream teachers who believe that children considered “different” are not their responsibility, which revealed the fact that there are many schools where the medical pathological model still dominates the educational activity. Another factor which has a great influence on teachers’ attitudes is the previous experience with children with special educational needs. Those who had a more frequent contact with people with disabilities have a more positive attitude towards inclusion than those who experienced little contact.

A large number of teachers believe that the successful implementation of inclusive practices should be based on a review of the curriculum and of the teaching strategies used in classes with children with special educational needs. It is in the light of the above that this study aimed to examine the perception and attitude of regular teacher towards inclusive education in the study area.

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