Background to the Study
Teachers’ readiness to support learners with visual impairment is a very valuable part of educational assets. It indicates the quality of education in a country and an agreement to the UN’s convention of the right of the persons with disabilities. A high level of teacher readiness indicates a superior condition of education, while a low level of teacher readiness is associated with an inferior quality of education. The teachers’ readiness concept varies from nation to nation, but the basic construct of it is always similar. Teacher readiness always deal with the kind of support that they can offer to learners. The support includes;academic support,moral support and social support. In Nigeria today, front-line teachers, school administrators, organizations of people with or without disabilities, parents, and politicians among others, continues to examine the ramification of this education practice (Ajuwon, 2018; Ada, 2016; Olaye 2016). As Inclusion of learners with visual impairment into secondary schools becomes normal, it has become imperative to evaluate teachers’ readiness, knowledge, roles and responsibilities and obligations to the visually impaired learners. Teachers are known to be powerful agent of change, custodians of knowledge and they are gradually seen as vital stakeholders in the implementation of inclusive programs.
According to Abang (2015), the visually impaired are those with some amount of visual problems which could be remedied either by surgical operation or by optical corrections. This includes those who are partially sighted, low vision and the blind as the case may be. Visual impairment means having difficulties with one’s vision. The difficulties could be defined according to the severity of impairment. It is believed that when an individual is visually impaired his learning, social interaction, locomotion, general operation and adjustment are bound to be adversely affected. This is why Anomonye (2016) defined visual impairment as the act of exhibiting reduction in visual performance when compared with the normal visual performance or the “actual drawn back” an individual experiences which others can observe in specific visual tasks. In spite of this condition of visual impairment, they still desire to be nurtured through education to make their intellectual ability global useful. This is simplified through adaptations which are made in addition to regular school curriculum where by the nature of materials used and the teaching methods are so organized to meet their educational aspirations.
The visually impaired groups need formal education as it pave way for them to be occupationally engaged in the labour market like any other person who is not visually impaired. This is one reason for quality assurance in their education. Apart from this, their higher educational attainment enables them to know their duties and to perform them as citizens. This stand out to challenge the negative attitude that some persons have developed towards the capability of persons with visual impairment. Their higher educational qualification gives them full societal acceptance as some of them are employed as lecturer in tertiary institutions, lawyers, journalists etc. From these various occupations, they can take good care of themselves, families as well as their extended relations in any environment or community across the globe. Persons with special needs are those with visual impairment. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2013) identified persons with visual impairment to include the blind and the partially sighted. They are therefore billed to benefit from inclusive education.
Ozoji in Chukuka (2013) perceived inclusive education as programme that allows children with disabilities to learn together with other children in regular school. Inclusive education is normalization of learning condition for learners with disabilities so that they can learn and develop alongside other students in school and community. Today, there seem to be doubt in workability of inclusive education. No wonder Federal Republic of Nigeria, (2016) remarked that special need persons who cannot benefit from inclusive education, special classes, and units shall remain in special school”The foregoing introduced confusion in the popular campaign for inclusive education. Visual impairment has educational implications on individual concerned. Providing integration and equal higher educational opportunities for the visually impaired in this country is sometimes controversial due to environmental degradation, architectural barriers, negative attitude of the public, inadequate materials/ equipment, cost of education and high cost of the materials invoiced for the effective teaching and learning. In many nations around the globe the possibility of providing the needed facilitates to ease the educational pursuit of the visually impaired is difficult. In Nigeria for instance, a lot of the educational materials for the visually impaired are not manufactured locally unlike in the developed countries like Japan, Australia, USA etc. The means of attaining some of these materials by the visually impaired pose serious challenges which only the intervention of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) ameliorate. Ekwueme (2016) also discussed problems of equipment, teacher training facilities, funding, law and administrative rigidity as key problems inhibiting the steady growth of special education in Nigeria.Globally, teacher’s readiness to teach children with visual impairments in school has been an area of concern and generally a subject of debate among educators worldwide. It even raises more concern among educators in the area of special needs education when it comes to teacher’s readiness to teach visually impaired learners especially within regular school settings (Abang 2015). Unfortunately in Nigeria, learning needs of children with disabilities are not met (Ministry of Education 2018). Some reports also revealed that the educational achievement of these learners with visual impairment has been persistently low, as compared to their counterparts (McCall 2019). Despite the studies conducted on the education of learners with visual impairment in Nigeria by Kristensen (2013) and by Lynch, McCall, Douglas, McLinden and Bayo (2019); none of them has paid attention to aspects of skills of teachers; adapted materials, equipment and devices, or issues directly related to the classroom. It is to this end that the study is set to examine teachers’ readiness to support learners with visual impairments in secondary schools in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Statement of the Problem
The hue and cry about the learners with visual impairment academic performance in Secondary School Certificate Examination is becoming alarming. The expected quality has not been attained. The researcher believed that the problem of high failure in the Senior Secondary is an accumulated one, which resulted from improper foundation in the Junior Secondary. There is a persistent decline in the academic performance of learners with visual impairment in public secondary school generally, and specifically in the English language in spite of government huge expenditure on education. However, instead of looking into the general and specific causes of decline, some, most of the time castigate the school related factors especially the teacher-related factors; knowing well that functional educational system depends on the adequacy of some indispensable teacher behavioural traits. So, there is a need to ascertain what teacher-variables influence the academic performance of learners with visual impairment in secondary school. Readiness of the teacher is usually associated with highly professional performance and there is a direct link in the field of education between a teacher‟s professional readiness and pupil performance.
There is a popular bid for equal education for all. The idea of segregating the learner with visual impairment has been agitated against and today the in-thing is inclusive education. The learners with visual impairment should be in the same class setting with sighted ones and also be socially included in the activities of their schools. Teaching and learning are expected to be result oriented in the inclusive setting with professional teachers using materials and educational technological facilities to teach them.
There seem to be doubt in working of the above. Inclusion for learners with visual impairment in primary school seems not to be working in the state in question. The teachers there seem not ready for the much valued inclusive education to lack professional and technological development readiness to achieve good result. The preparedness of the teachers of having sound background information in the principle and practice of inclusive education and acquired skills in using modern educational technology in teaching pupils with visual impairment ought to be investigated. No literature available to the researcher has addressed the above to assess Teachers’ readiness to support learners with visual impairment specifically in Idemili South local government area, Anambra state.The above is perceived as serious development hence inclusive education shall remain a mere dream to the learners with visual impairment as they shall be frustrated, helpless and hopeless.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate teachers’ readiness to support learners with visual impairment in public secondary schools in Idemili South local government area. The specific objectives of the study include;
- To investigate the academic support teachers offer learners with visual impairment in public secondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state.
- To ascertain the moral support teachers offer visually impaired learners in public secondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state
- To investigate the social support teachers offer visually impaired learners in public secondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state
Scope of the Study
The study is delimited to teachers in public secondary schools in Idemili South. The study will cover public secondary schools with learners with visual impairment in Idemili South L.G.A, Anambra State.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study if properly implemented would be of paramount benefit to school administrators and school planners, teachers and future researchers.It will also be beneficial to learners with visual impairment as solutions that will be of help to both the learners and their parents will be proffered.
The school administrators and school planners will be aware of the salient impact of teachers professional readiness on learners with visual impairment interest in academic work. In other words, the study would also reveal such administrative variable (factors) that can influence the learners’ interest such as disciplinary measure/provision of necessary facilities, provision of qualified and experienced education teachers and so on.
The findings of the study will help teachers who implement the curriculum contents possess foresight and also vary their method of teaching and learning. It will also help to appreciate the interest of students towards the subject.
Consequently, a good teaching and learning bond existing between teachers and visually impaired learners will motivate the students to achieve a high productivity aggregate in teaching and learning processes. The hard mark of teaching is the achievement of excellence.
The study would further serve as a baseline study for future research endeavours. Moreover, researchers intending to or already conducting a similar study in other locations or on a broader scope may use the findings of this study as a reference material for their studies
The following research questions guided the study:
- What is the academic support teachers offer learners with visual impairment in public secondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state?
- What is the moral support teachers offer learners with visual impairment in public secondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state?
- What is the social support teachers offer learners with visual impairment in public ssecondary schools in Idemili southG.A, Anambra state?