Challenges in identifying and serving students with special needs in Dodoma, Tanzania

Phidea H. Mapunda, Abich D. Omollo, Theodora A. L. Bali
2017 International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy  
The term special educational need was introduced in the beginning of the 21st century. The desire at that time was to move away from the use of older terminologies such as 'handicapped children' to find a generic description that would more suitably embrace the increasingly diverse group of children with problems in learning (Westwood 2011). According to Farrel (2003) , a child has special educational needs if he or she has learning difficulties than the majority of children of the same age.
more » ... s calls for special educational provisions to be made for such category of learners. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2009) explains that children have a learning difficulty if they (a) have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of the children of the same age; or (b) have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority; or (c) are under compulsory school age and fall within the definition in (a) or (b) above, or would so do if special educational provision were not made for them. Abstract The purpose of this study was to assess if there is a functioning school-based system of assessment for identification and intervention programmes for children with special educational needs in pre-primary schools around Dodoma municipality. The study employed mainly qualitative research approach with some elements of quantitative research. Data were collected through interviews and documentary review. The study involved 28 participants who were purposively selected. Qualitative content analysis was used for data analysis. The study was guided by the socio-cultural theory. The findings of the study revealed that there were no special educational needs policy implementation frameworks necessary to enforce the provision of special educational needs for pre-primary children in Dodoma municipality. This has created a gap between the intended policy outcome and what is actually implemented at the municipal and school level. As a result, special educational needs for pre-primary children were mainly being carried out through ordinary classes without special educators or assistive learning devices. It was noted that the communication between schools and families of children with special educational needs was very poor. The study recommends that the current practices in the area of special educational needs require major improvement. Open Access © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
doi:10.1186/s40723-017-0036-8 fatcat:6qxvi7mofjbzxma3dr5s6gbwby