THE AVAILABILITY OF LEARNING FACILITIES AND ITS IMPACT ON THE ACADEMIC ATTAINMENT OF VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS.
Background to the study
Education is a potent tool for social change, and it frequently begins upward movement in the social structure. As a result, the gap between different segments of society is being bridged. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) issued the Sergeant Report on the country's postwar educational development in 1944. According to the study, measures for handicapped education were to be an integral aspect of the national system of education, which was to be overseen by the Education Department. This study said that disabled children should be assigned to special schools only when the type and depth of their problems required it. Education is critical in rehabilitating visually impaired children because it teaches them to be self-sufficient, gives them a sense of belonging in the global world, bridges the gap between blind children, identifies abilities in disability, develops inherent talents in blind children, and eliminates stigmatisation.
Significantly, Ong‟eta, & Nyambura (2018) observed that the educational situation in the country has changed dramatically over the years, resulting in greater educational offerings and practises. Specific education is for students who have special educational needs. These are students who appear to struggle with all types of learning or who have a general trouble with some aspect of their schoolwork. Students with hearing impairment or who are deaf, students with vision impairment or who are blind, students with physical disabilities, students with intellectual disability, students with learning difficulties, students with behaviour disorders or emotional disturbance, and students with speech or language difficulties are examples of students who require special education.
However, a school that has appropriate learning facilities is more likely to have superior educational outcomes than one that does not have these resources. Teachers and other human resources are thus required to use the TLM and available human resources, physical facilities, and equipment to meet stated goals and enhance learning outcomes. Human resources, physical facilities, and teaching and learning equipment all have an impairment on visually impaired students. Textbooks, instructors manuals, reference books, models, excursions/field trips, charts, calculators, computers and internet Braille machines, slate and stylus, braile embosser, and structures are examples of teaching learning materials (TLM) (Andzayi and Ikwen, 2015). Their accessibility helps students to finish assignments, thoroughly cover the curriculum, and so get better academic achievements. Desks and chairs, dormitories, dining halls, offices, laboratories, library, agriculture rooms, home science rooms, computer rooms, play grounds, stores, toilets/latrines, and recreational facilities are examples of physical facilities that contribute to the creation of a conducive learning environment (Dada, Ikwen and Fagbemi, 2016).
Notably, vision is important in classroom learning, and instructors must be aware of their pupils' visual ability. Many students with mild to moderate vision impairments are not diagnosed as such, hence instructors play a crucial role in recognising vision impairment (Andzayi and Ikwen, 2017). Students with vision impairment, like students with hearing impairment and some other disabilities, can be mistaken for students with intellectual disability or learning difficulties, so when a teacher notices that a student is struggling in school, they should always check the student's vision and hearing. When a kid's vision impairment is not addressed in school, it can lead to academic challenges and even behavioural problems as the student misses vital information, struggles to keep up with other students, loses confidence, and becomes irritated (Ahon, Obi and Ikwen, 2017).
Many forms of vision problems are inherited and cannot be avoided. However, certain vision abnormalities can be avoided, as follows: Students must be taught never to hurl stones, sticks, or other tiny or sharp items at other children. Students must be taught to keep chemicals like lime, cement, gasoline, and cleaning materials away from their hands and eyes. Students and parents must be taught about hygiene, including how to keep their eyes, faces, and hands clean. Eyes should only be cleansed with pure water; no chemicals should be introduced in or near the eye. If a child has an eye issue or discomfort, he or she should always be sent to a health facility. Vitamin A is essential for children and moms. Leafy vegetables, cassava, paw paw, and other yellow and orange vegetables are high in vitamin A, and girls should be vaccinated against rubella (German measles). Students with vision impairments are frequently poor spellers because they are unable to perceive patterns in words or picture words in the same way that students with normal vision do. Teachers must be sensitive to this specific requirement and not presume that the kid has a learning disability due to bad spelling and then encourage them to overcome that challenge.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In recent years, children with visual impairments have learned academic skills and activities in the same way as their sighted counterparts, but at a slower speed. According to Corn and Wall (2022), for people with limited vision, print may look distorted, posing issues for both blind and partially sighted students. Because of these issues, the visually handicapped have limited visual simulation and experience. They may have advanced hearing and speaking abilities, but they need more actual experience, such as auditory and Braille, to broaden and enhance their notions and vocabulary (Ikwen and Ezera, 2017). This effort may have an impact on their reading and writing abilities. The availability of teaching and learning resources improves school effectiveness since they are essential factors that can lead to improved academic achievement in students. According to Maicibi (2018), all institutions or organisations are comprised of human people (workers) and other non-human resources. He goes on to say that when the correct amount and quality of human resources are brought together, they may influence other resources to achieve institutional aims and objectives. Special education is the development and implementation of teaching and learning techniques for people with impairments or learning problems who may or may not be enrolled in regular schools (Oyeniran and Ikwen, 2017).
In contrast, teaching those with visual impairments should be goal-oriented. This requires adequate people resources, facilities, and equipment. They should be well-taught with adequate human resources, facilities, and equipment. Due to a lack of human resources, facilities, and equipment, effective instruction of visually impaired individuals has not occurred, resulting in difficulties such as: poor learning, poor performance, loss of self-confidence, dissatisfaction, retreat from people, and dream damming, among others. To the best of the researcher's knowledge, little or no work of this nature has ever been done in this section of the nation. Based on the foregoing, this study seeks to evaluate human and material resources for successful instruction of students with vision impairment at the Ministry of Education Special Education Centre in Awka, Anambra State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study aims to find out the availability of learning facilities and its impact on the academic attainment of visually impaired students. Specifically, the study will:
1. Examine the availability of human resources and its utilization in special schools in Awka, Anambra State .
Access the availability of physical facilities and its utilization in special schools in Awka, Anambra State.
Investigate the effectiveness of available equipment and its utilization in special schools in Awka, Anambra State.
Ascertain whether availability and utilization of learning facilities impacts academic attainment of visually impaired students in special schools in Awka, Anambra State.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are aimed to guide the study:
To what extent are human resources available and utilize in special schools in Awka, Anambra State ?
What is the extent to which the facilities are available and utilize in special schools in Awka, Anambra State?
To what extents are equipment available and utilize in special schools in Awka, Anambra State?
Does availability and utilization of learning facilities impacts academic attainment of visually impaired students in special schools in Awka, Anambra State?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Most of the studies carried out in academic field have their own significances in enlarging the knowledge bank. This is true that the finding of this study will be of great benefits to (special educators, policy makers, curriculum designers, parents and family members, the society and the global world, students, the government). To special educators in planning of instructions, to policy makers in their policy making, to curriculum designers in restructuring curriculum design, to parents and family members it will erase stigmatization, to the society and the global world in their misconception about this group of persons, to student in developing the inherent talent in them and giving them sense of belonging, and to the government in providing adequate and sophisticated facilities equipment to aid the teaching and learning of persons with visual impairment. I sincerely believed that this study will go a long way to salvage the image of special education especially the failing standard of resources for effective teaching and learning.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study borders on availability of learning facilities and its impact on the academic attainment of visually impaired students. The study covered only ministry of education special education centre Awka, Anambra State. It is concerned about the facilities, equipments and personnel‟s tor teaching and learning of students with visual impairment and it focuses only on that.
1.7 Limitation of study
This research project, like all human endeavors, had some challenges that threatened to derail the study's completion. One of the reasons is that the time allotted for this work was so limited that the researcher did not have enough time to complete the task thoroughly. During data collection, the researcher also had to put forth extra effort to understand the respondents' interview schedules, several of whom fell into the incomprehensible age group. Also, there were financial and transportation constraints to deal with. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, interview).
1.8 Definition of Terms
Human resources: These are resources mainly carried out by human.
Material resources: These are concrete object used by the visual impairment persons and personnel as instructional materials.
Facilities/equipment: these are resources that aid teaching and learning process. They are classrooms, library, ICT, sporting facilities and instructional materials. Effectiveness: this is the extent to which the resources are expected to achieve its objectives such as producing highly competitive graduates who are best literates in the society.
Teaching: It is the process of impacting knowledge to those who are committed to it. Visual impairment: this is a genetic term that includes a wide range of visual problem. This visual problem includes the blind, low vision, partially sighted, long and short sightedness.