Practices of Policy and the Implementation of Inclusive Education in Public Secondary Schools in Tharaka-Nithi County- Kenya
Practices of policy are critical towards the successful implementation of inclusive education in schools. The approach recognizes the learners’ diversity, enabling them to access course content, fully participate in learning activities and demonstrate their strength at assessment. The mandate of inclusive education policy implies that regular schools modify their guiding principles that inform all decisions, policies and practices to cater for learner diversity. This is particularly significant since the fundamental aim of inclusive education is to accommodate all learners regardless of their physical, intellectual, social and emotional conditions. In spite of the inclusive education policy, disability remains a major course of exclusion in schools in Kenya. Thus, the purpose of the study was to analyse the effects of practices of policy towards the implementation of inclusive education in public secondary schools. The actual sample constituted 161 respondents. Data was collected using a questionnaire administered to 100 teachers, an interview guide for 11 learners living with physical disabilities and 5 focus group discussions each group comprising 10 non-disabled learners. The study was guided by the Social Model of Disability and adopted a mixed method design. Quantitative data was analysed using inferential statistics. The ANOVA and t-test were done to test the study hypotheses. Qualitative data was organized by developing codes, then categorizing them into themes presented in a narrative form. Linear regression was carried out to check the linear relationships between the variables. The overall results showed that practices of policy in schools were rated by majority of teachers as ineffective in addressing the needs of learners with disabilities. School guiding principles that address the needs of learners with disabilities was rated; Not Sure (52%); Stakeholder involvement in planning and strategizing for learners with disabilities; Not effective at all (50%), Human resource especially the teacher factor; Not effective at all (92%), Adequacy and modification of physical resources; Not done at all (62%), Provision of finances to restructure the school environment; Not provided (67%) and finally School strategies in overcoming physical barriers that hinder the implementation of inclusive education; Not effective at all (67%). Further, the study established that all the variables accounted for a small variance towards the implementation of education. The study concluded that inclusive education has not taken root in public secondary schools. Learners with disabilities have to adapt to get the needed education or drop out of school. The main conclusion of the study was that lack of effective practices of inclusive education policy was a major obstacle to the implementation of inclusive education in secondary schools. The policy framework is weak in guiding the schools on effective strategies for developing school practices that positively influence the implementation of inclusive education. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education through the County Education Boards, develop a wellcoordinated master plan for consistent school reform founded on clear inclusive education philosophy, policies and practices to effectively implement inclusive education in public secondary schools in Kenya.