Problems of Adolescents in Inclusive Secondary Schools: A Comparative Analysis

Article excerpt

This study examined the problems of students with and without disabilities in inclusive secondary schools in Lagos state. The instrument used to collect data was the Student Problem Inventory (SPI), which measured the respondents' problems from their known judgements. Results revealed that majority of the respondents with disabilities had problems on all the subscales of SPI while the non-disabled respondents had few problems. However, relative to the scores of the respondents without disabilities on the other problem areas they scored higher on Family, Financial, and Academic subscale, of SPI. This was explained as the probable effect of poverty. Nonetheless a statistically significant difference was found between the problem of respondents' with disabilities and those without disabilities. This finding was attributed to the effect of disability, poverty and inappropriate practice of inclusive education. Based on the findings, recommendations were made.

Introduction

In a previous study, this writer examined the problems of students with disabilities in inclusive secondary schools in Lagos State. It was found that majority of the respondents have different problems, which strongly affect their academic performance as well as their well-being. This finding was attributed to the presence of disability, poverty, the physical environment of the school as well as the services that were provided. However, considering the peculiar situation of a child in contemporary Nigerian society coupled with the students being adolescents, one is tempted to compare the problems of students with disabilities and those without disabilities to ascertain if there are significant differences, more so, since inclusive education is meant to cater for the differences between students with disabilities and those without disabilities.

Inclusive education in this paper is the education of all students classified as disabled together with non-disabled in general classrooms with appropriate professional services, what Bowe (2005) termed full inclusion. The goal of inclusive education is to combat discriminatory attitudes, create welcoming communities, build an inclusive society and achieve equal educational opportunities for all. The efficacy of inclusive education in changing non-disabled attitudes towards the disabled has been asserted by several studies. It has been asserted that inclusive education offers both academic and social advantages (Bursuck 8c Friend, 2002; Stenger, 2004). Stenger explains that children need to have a sense of belonging to learn and grow, if the belonging need is not fully met, a student will have difficulty moving into the self-esteem level, where achievement and mastery (learning) take place. Inclusion helps students with disabilities gain a sense of belonging when they are truly part of the school, equally with non-disabled children. Hence it is expected that inclusive schooling would have facilitated sense of belonging in the disabled and effectively inculcated solidarity between disabled and non-disabled adolescents, thus creating basis for comparison.

In addition, a child in contemporary Nigeria is faced with the challenges of poverty and its attendant problems. The United Nations Human Poverty Index (HPI) which focuses on the proportion of people below a threshold level within the various dimensions of human development comprising living a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living gave Nigeria a value of 37.3%. This value places Nigeria on a rank of 80 out of 108 developing countries. Therefore, the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo declares 54% of Nigerians, which is about 76 million of Nigeria's 140 million people, as living below poverty level (Egwa, 2008). Of the 140 million, Lagos State has an estimate of 1 5million people out of the thirty six States in Nigeria.

Lagos State as the commercial and industrial hub of Nigeria continues to witness influx of people from within Nigeria and neighbouring countries for commercial and other activities such that the city today can best be described as overpopulated or overflowing with its estimate of 15million people. …

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