Primary School Teachers' Knowledge and Awareness of Dyslexia in Kuwaiti Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

For many years teachers have been concerned about students who appear normal, intelligent, and healthy, but struggle with reading and learning to read and write. These difficulties are identified under the concept of dyslexia. In general, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability; it refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person's life. It is referred to as a learning disability because it can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment. (International Dyslexia Association, 2007)

Like many teachers in other countries, Kuwaiti teachers are aware of this problem, but lack of time, and being overloaded with daily school routines and responsblities, prevent them from helping and assessing these children. On other hand, the Kuwait Dyslexia Association (KDA) has conducted a popular survey (2004) that highlighted the alarming rate of dyslexia: 6.3% of students attending primary schools in Kuwait. In response, a number of actions have been initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which declared the establishment of a "Dyslexia Higher Education Committee" in 2005 to raise awareness of dyslexia in mainstream Kuwaiti schools. Also, it started a national initiative, "Dyslexia-Friendly Schools," in collaboration with the KDA and the British Dyslexia Association in 10 schools across Kuwait. (Elbeheri, 2008) Such actions should have an impact, increasing understanding and achievement in Kuwaiti schools.

Therefore, this study intends to investigate Kuwaiti languge teachers' level of knowledge and awareness of dyslexia in the primary grades. A number of benefits were expected as a result of this research, which are as follows:

1. Students will get more help from their teacher, and receive adequate assistance as needed, if the teachers have appropriate knowledge and understanding of the students' problems.

2. Teachers, viewing these results, will compare their current knowledge of dyslexia with accurate information from the literature.

3. School administrators and educational policymakers will benefit from these results by being able to base their actions on valid data--teachers' actual knowledge of dyslexia--and will also try to asses their own current perception of this learning difficulty. Also, they will learn the right support school children need, the various strengths and weaknesses of interventions, and how to encourage further professional interventions programs if required.

Statement of the problem

The research problem is guided by the following three research questions:

1. Are teachers in Kuwaiti primary schools trained to deal with students with dyslexia?

2. Do teachers in Kuwaiti primary schools have adequate knowledge and awareness about the early signs of dyslexia?

3. Are there any mean differences between teachers' training, knowledge, and awareness level, and their ability to diagnose symptoms of dyslexia, compared with their demographic backgound (gender, nationality, educational degree, and teaching experience)?

Purpose of the study

This study investigates Kuwaiti primary school teachers' knowledge of the early signs of dyslexia and their awareness level of the related difficulties dyslexic children suffer. It aims to collect solid data about to what extent languge teachers have trained on this learning disability, and whether language teachers can diagnose and identify the early symptoms of dyslexia among their students.

Importance of the Study

The justification for the present study is related to both future practice and research. …