Special-needs kids neglected
DAVE CHAMBERS | 2017-03-20 08:11:01.0
Child plays on a swing during a therapeutic session at the Centre for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth. File photo
Image by: MARKO DJURICA
Children with learning difficulties are “grossly neglected” in mainstream schools. And teachers feel ill-equipped to help them.
These are two of the key findings of a study among “learning support ” and mainstream teachers in the Western Cape.
Researcher Lorna Dreyer, of the educational psychology department at Stellenbosch University, said it was “imperative” that teachers “merely tolerating” special-needs children be trained to educate them properly.
Dreyer set out to evaluate children who were placed in mainstream schools while waiting for a place at a special schools.
Writing in the SA Journal of Education, she said questionnaires and focus groups involving 206 teachers showed that “mainstream teachers do not feel confident enough or sufficiently qualified to offer the kind of specialist support they believe is needed by some of the learners in their classes”.
She added: “The mainstream teachers … further suggested that too much emphasis was being placed on academic performance, and that the emotional wellness and vocational skills which could prepare their learners for life were being neglected.”
Teachers also referred to problems such as physical accessibility to schools, overcrowded classes and limited resources.
Said Dreyer: “These reservations should not be dismissed, taking into consideration the long waiting lists and the fact that their learners … have to be accommodated in the mainstream class without significant support.”