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INSTRUCTIONAL SKILL NEEDS OF TEACHERS FOR INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN EBONYI STATE

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Topic Description

  CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Education of persons with special needs is going inclusive after several years of exclusivist and separatist paradigm. The change in approach came as a result of a number of influence. Chief among them were the paradigm shift from defect to social model and the UN education programmes (Ozoji, 2008). The defect or “within-child model” is based on the assumption that the origin of learning difficulties lie largely within the child. The social model on the other hand is based on the proposition that society and its institutions account for the child’s impairment (Okeke Oti, 2010). The social model posits that society and its institutions are oppressive, discriminatory and disabling and that if any change is to be effected, attention needs to be focused on the removal of obstacles to the participation of people with disability in the life of the society and in changing institutions, regulations and attitudes that create and maintain exclusion (Mittler, 2000).

1

Inclusion is educational arrangement that deemphasizes exclusion and emphasizes the restructuring of instructions (schools), classrooms, and approached to instruction to address and meet diverse needs of all children (Okeke-Oti, 2009). The broad definition of inclusion was that given by UNESCO (2005). It defined inclusion 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 responsibilities of the regular system to educate all children p:12).

 

This implies that inclusion accommodates all learners whether such learners are disabled or not

Inclusion is the process of addressing the diverse needs of all learners through increasing participation of all learners in neighbourhood schools with matching support (Okeke-Oti; 2010).  Okuoyibo (2001) asserted that inclusion means bringing students with disabilities regardless of the nature and severity of their disabilities into all placement activities of general education such as schools, classrooms and the surrounding communities. Further, Okuoyibo explained that the thrust of the matter on inclusion is that children with disabilities should be unconditionally mainstreamed into the regular education system without regard to the nature and severity of their disabilities. Ojogwu (2005) observed that the nature of inclusiveness requires that all learners regardless of disability be educated in the same classroom. The emphasis of inclusion therefore, is to give everybody in the society an equal opportunity to benefit from formal education programme.

Inclusive education denotes three or more shades of meaning according to Ozoji (2005). First, it entails enabling all learners to participate fully in the life and work of mainstream setting. Second, it conveys a continuing process of breaking down barriers to learning and participation for all children and young people. Third, it implies a right to belong to the mainstream or a joint undertaking to and discrimination and to work toward equal opportunities for all pupils and students. Hence, Ozoji (2005) defined inclusive education as an education option or programme carefully designed to educate learners with diverse needs within the re-structured mainstream or school, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses in any area and become part of the school community.

Similarly, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (2002) of the University of Bristol, England, stated that inclusive education means that all children and young people, with or without disabilities or difficulties should learn together in ordinary pre-school provision, schools, colleges and Universities with appropriate networks of support. In the context of this study, inclusive education is taken to refer to the participation of all primary school pupils in a general curriculum. The researcher is aware that inclusive education goes beyond special needs children but this study does not include such other categories of children as those with legal confinement, ethnic minorities and those with social stigmas.

One of the arguments in favour of inclusive education is the realization that every individual is unique, hence the focus must be on the individual and not on the subjects. According to Deiner (1999), if all children are part of regular settings and all children participate in the general curriculum, then all educators need to know sufficient techniques to care for and educate all children. (Unachukwu, Ozoji & Ifelunni, 2008). Inclusive education programme is planned to meet individual educational needs. Specifically, inclusive education has the following goals according to Ozoji (2005);

  • to provide education for children with diverse learning needs within the re-structured school community,
  • to make special needs children active members of the school community and then
  • to help them achieve quality education outcomes based on their individual Education Programme (IEP’s)
  • to achieve social competence,
  • to build a supportive school community that is able to identify and minimize barriers to learning and participation,
  • to educate more children better,
  • to ensure successful learning and social experience and competence,
  • to empower children who are hitherto excluded or isolated,
  • to enable students to participate in mainstream education to the best of their abilities,
  • to build inclusive schools that can respond to diverse needs,
  • to study the pressures that lead some people in schools to feel excluded and separated,
  • to attend imaginatively to diverse learning needs in the classroom,
  • to provide education for children with diverse learning needs within the re-structured school community,
  • to make special needs children active members of the school community and then
  • to help them achieve quality education outcomes based on their individual Education Programme (IEP’s)
  • to achieve social competence,
  • to build a supportive school community that is able to identify and minimize barriers to learning and participation,
  • to educate more children better,
  • to ensure successful learning and social experience and competence,
  • to empower children who are hitherto excluded or isolated,
  • to enable students to participate in mainstream education to the best of their abilities,
  • to build inclusive schools that can respond to diverse needs,
  • to study the pressures that lead some people in schools to feel excluded and separated,
  • to attend imaginatively to diverse learning needs in the classroom,
  • to ensure improvement of student learning outcomes,
  • to develop exemplar units of planning for diversity and to dismantle barriers to access and participation and in the end facilitate achievement in schooling and training.

to ensure improvement of student learning outcomes,

  • to develop exemplar units of planning for diversity and to dismantle barriers to access and participation and in the end facilitate achievement in schooling and training. P:126

Inclusive education takes place in an inclusive classroom where teachers, learners and other paraprofessionals interact to achieve individual learner’s educational goals. It is an active learning environment where every learner is participating in the classroom activities (Onwubolu & Edozie, 2011). The authors further see inclusive classroom as a classroom where learning often happens in small groups with peer helping and supporting each other. It is also a classroom that is student centred and has a high level of responsibility for creativity in their community. Inclusive classroom is concerned with a system of education which offers every member of the society an equal opportunity to acquire basic education in the regular school environment (Chukwu, 2006). This implies that everybody in a given society has a right to be educated in the regular school irrespective of his or her mental or physical status or condition. In other words, in a society where inclusion is practiced, disability is not a barrier for an individual to attain the desired education in the same environment with his or her able bodied counterparts.

An inclusive classroom is a programme in which all available resources are collaboratively utilized to meet the educational needs and challenges of all children who reside in its attendant area. Furthermore, inclusive classroom have strong site based management and teaching teams when jointly plan, implement and evaluate their educational programmes.

As a working definition in this study therefore, an inclusive classroom is a place where everyone with or without special needs belong, is accepted, and is supported by their peers and other members of the school community in the course of having his or her educational needs met.

For inclusion to be successful in the classroom therefore, there is the need for teachers to acquire skills necessary to handle all categories of children with needs. Teachers need to find out how to work with each child rather than assuming someone also will tell them how to do it. Teachers need to know a variety of instructional strategies and how to use them effectively. Teachers in an attempt to ensure maximum participation of pupils in classroom apply certain instructional skills for effective teaching and learning.

These instructional skill needs of teachers are essential for inclusive classroom to function effectively. To understand instructional skills properly there is the need for us to understand the concept of instruction. Instruction has been defined and described differently by different authors in the area of education. Kpangbon & Onwuegbu (2004) describe instruction as the process of communicating information to the learner, stimulating relevant learning activities, evaluating the result of these activities and taking remedial action if necessary.  Okeke (2006) also perceived instruction as the process of passing on information from a more knowledgeable person (instructor) to a less knowledgeable person. In the process of instruction, the instructor, through order, command or direction, requires the learner to perform certain tasks or operation. The idea of instruction, judging from the view of Okeke, can be explained in terms of “drill”. A command is given and there is compliance implying the stimulus response process of learning. Instruction in the context of this study therefore, is the process of communicating information to the pupils, stimulating relevant learning activities, evaluating the result of these activities and taking remedial action if necessary by teachers in inclusive classroom.

Instructional skills according to Kpangban & Onwuegbu (1992) are patterns adopted by teachers to interact with their subjects. It is the knowledge and ability the teacher uses to communicate with the students. According to Romiszowski (2004) instructional skills is described as the process teachers use to communicate information to the learner, stimulating relevant learning activities and taking remedial action.

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