The Role of Street - Level Bureaucrats in Access to Education. A Case of The Implementation of The Persons With Disability Act of Ghana
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The Persons with Disability Act (PWDA) was passed in 2006, to address the needs of persons with disability in Ghana. The act's eight main provisions outline the respective areas in the lives of the persons with disability that the policy seeks to address. The provision on access to education outlines the educational needs and the services that should be provided to the persons with disability. Besides, although the policy's objectives are clearly outlined, there is no emphasis on the public workers (teachers) whose responsibility is to deliver a greater part of these services, including establishing appropriate measures on how they should perform their role. The role that teachers perform in their day to day classroom teaching activities, and the services they render to disabled students in enormous ways influence the extent to which the policy will be implemented effectively. Conditions of work in the environment of the street-level bureaucrat have a high tendency to influence the decisions the street-level bureaucrat take when implementing policy at the frontline. (Lipsky, 2010) Using the Theory of Street-Level bureaucracy, this study sought to examine how the role of the teachers, as street-level bureaucrats, influenced the implementation the of the PWDA's provision on education of persons with disability at the basic, secondary and tertiary levels of education. Problem of resources, goals, performance measures and relations with clients were identified as four variables influencing the role of teachers, as an intervening variable, which affects the implementation of access to education for the persons with disability. Through a triangulation of qualitative data collection methods such as in-depth face-to-face interviews, direct observations and documentary data, the study examined the factors that influenced the role of the teachers, and how the role of the teachers influenced the implementation of access to education for persons with visual impairment and persons with hearing impairment in three public schools in the Eastern region and one public university in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. The respondents included 10 teachers, 2 head teachers, 9 visually impaired and hearing impaired students, 2 coordinators and one resource person. The data obtained from the field, in the form of audio recordings, notes and documentary data were transcribed into text, and responses were categorised with codes and themes for analyses and discussions. The findings of the study showed that, the conditions of work of the teachers, influenced the implementation of the PWDA's provision on education of persons with disability. That is, the factors- problem of resources, goals, performance measures and relation with clients, were seen to influence the role of the teachers and the decisions they take in providing access to education for the persons with disability. It was further noted that, there is a variation in the extent to which the teachers develop coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges and indeterminacies that confront them in the course of their work. The findings reveal that, the teachers' capacity as trained special educators have a significant influence on the extent to which they are able to develop coping mechanisms when the situation calls for it. The study therefore concludes that, the coping strategies that street-level bureaucrats develop...