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Every child born into this world is a unique being. Even identical twins who have the same genetic endowment grow to become different personalities. At birth, one twin could be slightly bigger than the other, one or the other may be irritable, sleeps more, eats more, cries more, even one may be more lively and vocal than the other (Kemmer, 2001). It is observed that these noted differences in children generally will affect how parents, caregivers and teachers relate with them and this consequently affects their growth and development. It should be noted therefore that though all children do have needs: during the childhood period, a child requires physical activities as well as social acceptance to be able to function happily but some children have problems with physical activities or intellectual achievements or social interaction due to a disability. Such children are referred to as special need children (SNC). They (SNC) therefore require specialized methods of care with particular focus on the child’s potential strength by the caregivers and the Early Childhood Educators for whatever may be its individual’s physical and intellectual disability.

“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory”.(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 1948, Article 26). The words above were written over 60 years ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights yet,in some countries, children with disabilities are half as likely to be in school as children without disabilities (UNESCO,2008).

Achieving universal primary education clearly requires addressing the issues of educating children and youths with disabilities (Evans et al, 2011). From the beginning, the EFA declaration recognized that the learning needs of the disabled demands special attention (UNESCO, 1990, p.5). Four years after the first EFA conference in 1994, representatives from over 100 government and international organization met in Salamanca. Spain, for the World conference on Special Needs Education. The Salamanca framework estimated that in many developing countries, less than 1% of children with disabilities were included in the existing school systems(UNESCO, 1994a). The conference adopted what came to be known as The Salamanca statement and a Framework for Action. The framework is guided by a principle of inclusive education, described as : Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups (UNESCO, 1994a, p. 14).

These documents called for national governments and international organizations to increase their efforts to provide quality education to children with special educational needs. The Salamanca statement defines special educational needs as all those children and youths whose needs arise from disabilities or learning difficulties(UNESCO, 1994a, p.6).The framework encourages government to not only provide these students with their human rights to education but to also do so in inclusive schools and describe those schools as having : a child centered pedagogy capable of educating all children, including those who have serious disadvantages and disabilities. The merit of such schools is not only that they are capable of providing quality education to all children; their establishment is a crucial step in helping to change discriminatory attitudes, in creating welcoming communities and in developing an inclusive society. (UNESCO, 1994a, pp 6-7).

Education has been received by many countries as a norm. This was established in Salamanca conference in Spain, 1994; world conference on Education for all in 1990; and was reaffirmed in Dakar, 2000 with the sole aim of meeting learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. Although this was arguably a strategic movement to achieve goal 2 (Universal basic education) and goal 3 (Gender equality) of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Subsequently, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was introduced in 2015 to consolidate the achievements recorded so far.

In the spirit of inclusion, The International Standard Classification of Education released by UNESCO in 1997 distinguish the difference between special education and special needs education as follows: The term “special needs education” has come into use as a replacement for the term “special education.” The older term was mainly understood to refer to the education of children with disabilities that takes place in special schools or institutions distinct from, and outside of, the institution of the regular school and university system. In many countries today, a large proportion of disabled children are in fact educated in institutions of the regular system. Moreover, the concept of “children with special educational needs” extends beyond those who may be included in handicapped categories to cover those who are failing in school for a wide variety of other reasons that are known to be likely to impede a child’s optimal progress. Whether or not, this more broadly defines that group of children are in need of additional support depending on the extent to which schools are able to adapt their curriculum, teaching and organization and/or to provide additional human and material resources so as to stimulate efficient and effective learning for these pupils(UNESCO,1997, p.41).

Inclusive Education became indispensable. This is because several approaches have been used before arriving at inclusive education such as integration and inclusion of education. Thus it is pertinent to know that inclusive education was an afterthought initiative. This led UNESCO to establish Education for All (EFA) flagship entitled “The Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities”. Inclusive education will provide opportunity for young children with disability in early childhood education to learn together with their age group, siblings, without being isolated in a secluded classroom; as a result, they learn to live together.

Teachers face many challenges when dealing with children in mainstream schools.Not only do they have to give the children quality education, they also have to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. However, when special needs children are included in the classroom, the challenges would understandably increase. The challenges of the teachers are as follows: the widespread misconception that teaching is easy, Non-instructional responsibilities, Lack of support, Dealing with multiple disabilities, Handling Death, Handling the problem of an inclusive teacher, Professional Isolation, Lack of support from parents, The difficulty of Discipline in a special needs classroom, Budget problem etc

Not every one is excited about bringing students with disabilities into the mainstream classroom setting. Tornillo (1994), President of the Florida Education Association United is concerned that inclusion classroom teachers without resources, training and other supports necessary to teach students with disabilities  in their classrooms. Consequently, the disabled children are not getting appropriate, specialized attention and care and the regular students; education is disrupted constantly. He further  argues that inclusion does not make sense in the light of pressures from state legislatures and the public at large to develop higher academic standards and to improve the academic achievement of students.

By expanding the range of ability levels in a classroom through inclusion, Tornillo (1994) argues, teachers are required to direct inordinate attention to a few, thereby decreasing the amount of time and energy directed towards the rest of the class. Indeed the range of disabilities is just too great for one teacher to adequately teach. Consequently, the mandate for greater academic accountability and achievement are unable to be met.

According to a study by Coles (2009), the first challenge that teachers have to face is personal. They have to maintain order, stay unbiased and maintain enthusiasm patience and respect. The teacher must make sure to give special needs children an equal opportunity and help them achieve their full potential but not at the expense of the other children which can prove to be a real challenge. They must make sure that the  special child is not given undue preference over the other the other children and vice versa. It is essential that the teacher should not exhibit personal biases. Teachers have to be far in the classroom environment so that knowledge is disseminated fairly to all the students.


The need to feel included or to belong to a group is strong in most children. Children that are relegated to special classes or schools because they have special needs may develop a low self-esteem and image issues that could stay with them for the rest of their lives, making it difficult for them to feel like their peers.Unfortunately, that can lead to lifelong interpersonal problems and problems related to employment in their daily lives. According to the Children with Disabilities Act, children with special needs have the right to be educated with non-disabled children of their own age. The Children with Disabilities Act also states that children should have access to the same general curriculum taught to students without disabilities. Despite the Act supporting children, many teachers feel that problems may arise because of the inclusion of children with disabilities.

Apart from this, some teachers feel that they are not sufficiently qualified to handle special children and fulfill all their needs to ensure that they are educated in the least way possible. (Hines & Johnson,1997). However, teachers also claimed that it was quite likely for the special needs students to display behavioral troubles in class and that these problems would have a negative effect on the other children in class. Teachers also claim that it was harder to to divide their time adequately between the special child and and the rest of the children as well as keep the class disciplined when a special need child was present in the child. (Bahn, 2009).

It is on this background that this study seeks to investigate into teachers’ attitude towards inclusion of children with special needs in selected early childhood centers.


The purpose of the study is to examine teachers’ attitude towards inclusion of children with special needs. The specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. examine the teachers’ attitude towards the practice of inclusive education in Lagos State;
  2. ascertain the relationship between teacher’s gender and their attitude towards the inclusion of children with special needs;
  3. determine the difference in the attitude of regular teachers and special education teachers towards inclusion;
  4. ascertain the difference in the performance of regular children and children with special needs;
  5. assess the challenges teachers face in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs;
  6. suggest possible ways of ameliorating the challenges of teachers in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs.


The following research questions was  used for this study:

  1. To what extent do teachers’ attitude influence the practice of inclusion of children with special need in Lagos State?
  2. To what extent do teachers’ gender influence their attitude towards the inclusion of children with special needs ?
  3. Is there any difference in the attitude of regular teachers and that of special education teachers towards inclusion?
  4. To what extent is the difference in the performance of regular children and the children with need?
  5. Do teachers face challenges in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs?
  6. Are there possible ways of ameliorating the challenges of teachers in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs?


The following research hypotheses was used for the study:

  1. Teachers’ attitude will not have any significant influence on the practice of inclusion of children with special needs in Lagos State.
  2. There is no significant relationship between teachers’ gender and their attitude towards the inclusion of children with special needs.
  3. There is no significant difference between the attitude of regular teachers and special education teachers towards inclusion.
  4. There is no significant difference between the academic performance of regular students and the students with special needs.
  5. There is no significant challenges faced by teachers in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs.
  6. There are no significant possible ways of ameliorating the challenges of teachers in the practice of inclusion of children with special needs.


The result of this study will provide parents, teachers, educators and caregivers with the knowledge and importance of placing special needs children in the same classroom with others. It is also believed that the findings of this study will provoke further research in knowing why children with special needs thrive in standard classroom environments. More so, it will expose to teachers `why children with special needs develop friendship with their peers easily and feel less social tension about their disabilities.


This study was focused mainly on Teachers’ attitude towards inclusion of children with special needs in selected early childhood centers, Pre-schools and primary schools in Lagos State.


Inclusion: The presence of a child who is labeled disabled or different in a mainstream setting.

Special Need Children: These are gifted children with unique needs and abilities.

Inclusive Education: This education system accommodates all learners irrespective of their disabilities.

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