An investigation into the effects of in-service training on the knowledge, attitudes and understanding of primary school teachers in the Kaduna State of Nigeria : towards the integration of children with special educational needs in physical education
The education of children with various disabilities has attracted the attention of educational planners and curriculum developers in many countries of the world especially among the developed countries. Appropriate legislation, provision of facilities, and the training of specialist physical education teachers are some of the measures taken in some countries. In Nigeria as in most developing countries, the physical educational needs of children with disabilities has not received due attention, and the result is that Special Educational Needs children in schools are almost forgotten in the planning and implementation of school physical education programmes. The need to integrate them into school programmes is an important measure that should receive adequate consideration. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate forms of Inservice Education and Training (INSET) programmes for teachers and consider how these programmes can be improved to provide teachers with adequate knowledge and skills for the integration of children with physical disability into primary school physical education lessons. An experimental design was adopted for this study. In the design a sample of 100 teachers was drawn from the teachers' population in 5 primary schools in the Kaduna state of Nigeria. The same was divided into three groups of control (40), comparison (40) and experimental (20). All groups received the initial questionnaire, but the comparison and experimental groups received varying degrees of interventions by way of additional information on the practice of educational integration. The intervention for the comparison group was in the form of a booklet which contained an outline of SEN pupils' needs in physical education. Teachers in the experimental group received an intervention which included teaching demonstrations for children with physical disability in P. E. and the same booklets given to teachers in the comparison group. In addition, interviews and discussions with teachers were carried out as well as observation of physical education lessons in order to supplement data collection strategies. The purpose of these measures was to assess the impact of interventions introduced on attitudes, knowledge and skills of teachers regarding integration and to compare their opinions on these variables before and after the interventions. The questionnaire used for collecting information from teachers involved in the study was designed using a 5-point Likert type scale. Teachers' self-ratings on attitude, skills and knowledge of integration have been analysed using mean, standard deviation and student t- distribution test statistics using an SPSS PC computer analysis of data. Information gathered through observation and interviews have been analysed qualitatively. The main findings of the study related to the demographic characteristics of teachers working with SEN pupils in physical education who responded to the questionnaires, the attitude of the teachers to in-service training, their knowledge of the practice of integration, possession of relevant skills for working with Special Educational Needs children in a mainstream setting, awareness of the obstacles to mainstream education, and the need for collaborative efforts with parents and other professionals in order to achieve the objectives of programme of integration. Some of the conclusions reached were that there was an urgent need to recruit more qualified physical education teachers, and prepare them specifically for the role in catering for children with SEN so that, programmes of integration can be more effectively planned and implemented in Nigerian schools. Those responsible for teachers' education should be made aware of the need to provide further training to develop more knowledge and skills that may help them to cope with the new challenges of programmes of integration. Essentially, there is need to create a general awareness among educational planners, curriculum developers, policy makers, and physical education teachers of the importance of integrating children with physical disability into the mainstream physical education lessons so that educational provision in Nigeria can be seen to be fair and non-discriminatory to both able-bodied and disabled pupils. The focus of this study is also on providing teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills in order to enable them to cater for a wide range of children with special educational needs who may be attending ordinary schools in Nigeria and in the Kaduna state in particular. The term 'special educational needs' referred to in the thesis covers a wide range of children with disabilities including the amputees, moderate learning difficulties, movement difficulties, those with certain medical conditions(e. g. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy) and those with emotional and behavioural disorders. These are the types of children with special needs whom teachers in ordinary schools in the Kaduna state of Nigeria may have to provide for in their physical education lessons. Any reference to children with physical disability in particular is in relation to specific programmes of physical education designed specifically for those with physical handicaps or impairment. Reference to physical disability is therefore not used as an alternative term to special educational needs but when in particular referring to this specific form of special needs. Case studies of some of these children were carried out during the course of this study and reports shown in appendix S. Also, suggested programmes that would enable SEN children to participate in physical education lessons alongside their ablebodied peers have been provided in appendix 2.