Equity and access for children with vision impairment: where is Papua New Guinea now and where should it be in 2015?

Aiwa, James, and Pagliano, Paul (2013) Equity and access for children with vision impairment: where is Papua New Guinea now and where should it be in 2015? Journal of the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment, 6 (1). pp. 33-38.

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Abstract

This paper reports a quantitative research study on equity and access for students with vision impairment (VI) conducted in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Using the WHO definitions, students with VI comprise two groups: those with a low vision with visual acuity <6/18 and those who a legally blind with visual acuity <3/60. A survey questionnaire consisting of 16 questions plus a section for written comments was forwarded to 124 Special Education Resource Centre (SERC) teachers. There was a response rate of 83% (n=103). Respondents rated questions using a five point Likert scale from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Preliminary results indicate that the majority if the 366 students who received specialist services in 2009 are braille using and legally blind, with students with low vision seriously neglected. In PNG approximately 160,000 children in any one year level and an incidence of VI of about 0.7% for low vision and 0.15% for legally blind, the numbers would be expected to be about 1,120 for low vision and 240 for blind in each school year cohort if all children went to school. Teachers in the survey identified significant problems as: negative attitudes of parents and regular teachers, an over focus on disability rather than student ability, the need for specialist pre-service and in-service training and a lack of resources to support student transition to secondary and tertiary education. The paper makes three recommendations. These are that the National Department of Education and relevant stakeholders:

1. Make a firm commitment to achieving equity and access for all children including those with VI.

2. Identify all children with VI (low vision and blind) and ensure that they are all assessed and appropriately supported.

3. Provide relevant pre and in-service teacher training and material resources.

Item ID: 32594
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
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ISSN: 1443-7597
Funders: AUSAID, University of Goroka, James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 07:16
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130312 Special Education and Disability @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939907 Special Needs Education @ 100%
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