All school going children, whether with disabilities or not, have the right to education as stipulated in the international standards/frameworks such as Convention on the Rights of the Child (1986), the Salamanca Statement and Framework on Special Needs Education (1994), Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and others. This calls for changes in curricular decisions, classroom arrangements, provision of teaching and learning materials, adequate budgetary allocation and more importantly, appropriate teacher preparation. Preparation of special needs teachers and regular teachers in Malawi faces many challenges that need to be addressed. This paper critically analyses the status of special needs teacher education in Malawi, underlines the challenges, and trends and, proposes recommendations that will help improve the situation of learners with disabilities. The paper concludes that training of specialist teachers is restricted to visual impairment, hearing impairment and learning difficulties and yet there is also a need for multi-disability teachers and regular teachers with special needs education skills. There is therefore a need to plan different types of training programmes with variations in content, process and duration. Teacher education programmes should include the component of special needs education to enable all teachers to respond to the diverse needs of all learners in today's classrooms. The major recommendation is that the Malawi Government needs to come up with strong disability legislation and implement a National Policy on Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities to ensure that Teacher Education Institutions include special needs education in their pre-service curricula.
|Keywords:||Teacher Preparation, Special Needs, Disability, Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment|
Chancellor College, Faculty of Education, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Tile Hill, Zomba, Malawi
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