A study to understand the inclusion of learners with and without visual impairment in a secondary school in Lesotho
The study reported on here was conducted to investigate the perceptions of 8 learners in a secondary school in the Maseru district of Lesotho about inclusive education as it relates to learners with visual impairment. This school had integrated children with visual impairment. The study was conducted using a qualitative research approach, and a case study format was adopted. Eight participants (aged 16–23; 5 girls and 3 boys) participated in the study. Two focus groups were formed: one comprised 4 learners without visual impairment, and another 4 learners with visual impairment. Focus-group discussions were followed up with individual interviews. The results reveal that learners (with and without visual impairment) had mixed opinions about the integration of learners with visual impairment in their mainstream school. On the one hand they pointed out that inadequate resources and the unwelcoming infrastructure of their school discouraged this integration. Those with visual impairment also pointed to their exclusion from sports activities by their peers, as well as the occasional use of exclusionary language by some of their teachers, as indicating that special schools were better places for them. On the other hand, the learners stated some of the benefits of including learners with visual impairment in their school. These included enabling peer tutoring, peer consultations, and a slower pace of teaching. Learners with visual impairment also stated that inclusion had improved their social life, by enabling them to learn better ways of living with people without visual impairment. Based on these benefits, learners welcomed the inclusion of those with visual impairment in mainstream
Keywords: inclusive education; Lesotho; secondary school learners; teaching strategies; visual impairment
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