Relating Auditory Training and Parental or Caretaker Involvement in Lilongwe, Malawi

By Alinane Mtonya Malili , audiology technician and student of

the Master in Clinical Audiology and Hearing Therapy

Abstract

This study investigates factors contributing to low involvement of parents or caretaker in auditory training programs for hearing impaired children.  The study focuses on some of the reasons that cause parents not to be involved in auditory training.  The purpose of this phenomenological study is to know and deeply understand the experiences and feelings of the participants as well as to identify the obstacles so that parents, educators, stakeholders and the government can take action.

 

The research is qualitative in nature and a phenomenological design, carried out in Lilongwe city.  The study involves nine participants, including special needs teachers and parents.  It involves special needs teachers due to lack of speech therapists and audiologists in Malawi.  They are the ones handling children with special needs, including those with hearing impairment.  In this study data was collected using interview questions and observations. 

 

The results of this study show that there is a relationship between auditory training and parental involvement.  There are contributing factors to low participation of children and parents in auditory training which are influenced by poverty, attitude of parents, civic education, accessibility of auditory training centers, qualifications of special needs teachers and the role of community and government on auditory training.  Parents, stakeholders and government must work together, campaign for awareness on the goodness of auditory training sessions for hearing impaired children.  Establishment of more community based auditory centers.  Both the government and stakeholders should introduce in-service trainings to equip those who are already in the system (e.g. special needs teachers and supporting staff, speech therapists, audiology assistants). 

 

Problem Statement:  Factors contributing to low participation or involvement of parents or caretakers and children in auditory training sessions in Malawi.

 

Objective:  The aim of this study is to investigate the factors that contribute to low involvement of parents or caretakers and children in auditory training sessions in Malawi, Lilongwe in particular.

Introduction

Children with hearing impairment need special stimulation and training in the development of listening skills.  It is their right, just like any other child to have access to quality life through auditory training.  Listening, language and speech training should begin as early as possible (Hull, 1992).  Time has come that parents, community and stakeholders need to know the importance of early intervention in auditory training sessions for hearing impaired children.  The goal for auditory training for persons with hearing loss is to develop their ability to recognize speech using the auditory signal and to interpret auditory experiences (Tye-Murray, 1998).  In agreement to this, Malkan (2019) explained that auditory training is meant to help people with hearing loss to improve their ability to interpret, process, and assimilate auditory input.  Children with hearing loss need to be given the right to auditory training.  They need to have an opportunity to develop language, literacy, auditory, speech, social-emotional, and cognitive skills comparable to their typically hearing peers (Yoshinaga-Itano, 2008). 

 

Auditory training is the backbone of an oral educational set up as according to Malkan (2019).  It is the stimulation or education of the hearing mechanism and its associated sense organ by sound vibration as applied either by voice or any sonorous instrument (Malkan, 2019).  According to Mares (2019), auditory training maximizes the benefit of using hearing aids beyond simply amplifying sound.  She continues stating that it helps getting the brain and ears working together.

 

In Malawi, there is a need to integrate the efforts of audiologists and speech therapists, which are just a handful, so that together with government and stakeholders can work together.  Some of the work of speech therapists or audiologists are sometimes done by special needs teachers.  Children with hearing impairment must start auditory training so that they can progress well with education.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2019), a survey revealed that many low and middle income countries, specialists in ear and hearing care are either sparse or non-existent which is the exact case in Malawi.  In addition, once a child has been trained to listen in close situations, a need exists to enhance auditory learning in school classrooms (Hull, 1992).  It is important to start early auditory training programs so that by the time a child is ready for normal classes in regular school, the brain is already used to sound and signals.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the relationship between auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement. The study was trying to deeply understand the experiences and feelings of the participants.  Participants were both males and females that are connected to hearing impaired children in one way or the other and were teachers and parents. These participants were supposed to be from Lilongwe central west but because of transfers, the study was not only limited to Lilongwe central west. Below is the research guiding question:

 

-What is a connection between auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement to ensure worthy outcomes in a child progress in developing listening skills?

 

Here are also some of the sub questions to the investigation:

 

-What is the role of a parent or caretaker during auditory training

-What can the families or community do to motivate hearing impaired children?

-What is the role of a special needs teacher or speech therapist during auditory training?

-What is the impact of learning and teaching materials in motivating children?

-What is the role of the government and stakeholders in promoting auditory training sessions and establishing auditory training centers?

Low participation of parents or caregivers to attend auditory training with hearing impaired children is one of the factors that slow down progress of education in Malawi especially for hearing impaired children. According to Mulwafu (2020), caregivers appeared to have been motivated to seek care for their children several often-interacting factors prevented them from doing so. The barriers include location and distance in terms of costs of transportation, procedural challenges, awareness, understanding about ear and hearing issues and fear of uncertainty.

It was very important to conduct the study because it has revealed the relationship between auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement in improving listening skills, speech and language for hearing impaired children in Malawi.  The study also revealed the need of having adequate specialists who can reach out to more hearing impaired children in Malawi.   The results will provide new ideas to parents, communities and government on how to come up with strategies of encouraging parents and caregivers to be involved and participate more in auditory training programs with their hearing impaired children.  The same results also helped the researcher to know that parents and their level of education, financial problems, and distance are associated to contributing factors. 

 

The results of this study will also help to lessen the difficulties faced by hearing impaired children who do not have access to auditory training programs.  This will help them to pursue well with higher level of education.  The beneficiaries of this study are hearing impaired children, parents and special needs teachers (who sometimes do the work of speech therapist and audiologist).  It is likely that most children, who attended auditory training with their parents, can contribute well to their families, society and even to the nation.  Read (1971) explained that a child must go out to encounter new knowledge, rich with opportunities for growth, for sensory and social interactions.

Literature Review

This chapter presents the existing literature review related to the topic under study.  It also presents an overview of relevant research that has been done by other researchers about this study.  Literature has been reviewed as a reference and for clear understanding of the study.  Below are the headings that some literature has been reviewed.

 

Goldstein (1939) referred to auditory training as the stimulation or education of the hearing mechanism and its associated sense organ by sound vibration as applied either by voice or any sonorous instrument.  The goal of auditory training is to develop their ability to recognize speech using the auditory signal and to interpret auditory experiences (Tye-Murray, 1998).  Tye-Murray continued explaining that training helps those with hearing loss to use their residual hearing to their maximum capacity.  In agreement to this Hull (1992), indicated that aural rehabilitation programs for young children with limited hearing must promote the optimal use residual hearing by development of the auditory modality for acquisition and maintenance of spoken language.

The constitution of Malawi (2007) section 23 provides specific rights for children and defines children as individuals under the age of 16 years for the purposes of that section.  Section 25 provides that all persons are entitled to training and education (p. 33).  According to UNICEF (2001), children are persons below the age of 18, unless the laws of a specific country set the legal age for adulthood.  In this study children are from the ages of 2 to 5 years old.  For most Malawian children, school only starts at the age of 6 or sometimes even later when they enter primary school (UNICEF, 2009).  Hence auditory training has to start as early as possible.

 

According to Doop (1981), a family is by tradition defined as a social entity composed of two or more people who live together and are interrelated by blood, marriage or adoption.  He also describes a community as a settlement of people living in a particular geographical area and maintaining a system of interrelationships that satisfies many of the people’s physical and social requirements.  A study done by UNESCO (2000) stated that other supportive factors to better training and education are parents and community interventions.  Concurring to this another research done by UNICEF through the Ministry of Gender (2003), indicates that parents play a bigger role in the development of the child.  Parents must be involved as much as possible in the child’s education and activities so that they can also help the child at home.  According to this, Ball (2005), stated that while training or learning was associated with education in people’s minds, they remembered their unpleasant experiences at school where it was not exciting to learn. 

 

It is the responsibility of both parents and communities to support hearing impaired children especially those at the stage of attending auditory training rather than discouraging them.  As indicated by Cole (2016), parents also need to internalize ways of interacting that will promote the child’s use of audition, and the child’s acquisition of intelligible spoken language.  Knight (2006) argues that school is the only one of society’s agents for learning, education, and training.  Family, media, peer group, and church are some of the other institutions that share the responsibility of education.

 

An aural rehabilitationist’s job is to create activities that will both teach and test the child’s ability to meet the targets that are on the agenda (Cole, 2016).  Operational Guidelines for Integrated ECD (UNICEF, 2003) such as teachers, caregivers or helpers must be interested in children, be patient, loving and hard working.  They should also be a person of good character, well trained and experienced in working with children. According to Hyot (1981) training or education needs a good teacher who is intellectually competent and substantively committed.

 

For most students, however, if the teacher is not knowledgeable and excited about some body of substantive content, it will be unlikely that students will gain much knowledge or acquire much interest in that content.  A research done by Barnett (2008), states that other training programs with strong evidence of effectiveness have also had such teacher support, and it has been recommended that strong teacher support is likely to be important to reproduce positive results.     

 

Wall (1975), stated that it is assumed that children in contact with good and stimulating materials will ‘unfold’ and by and large educate themselves and each other under the administration of a caring and compassionate but largely non-directive adult. 

 

Rubin (1985) note the following:

 

Not only can knowledge be made more meaningful through the use of multimedia, it can also be more easily adapted to child’s abilities and needs.  However, there is no doubt that the learning materials modifies or changes the teacher’s role to some degree.  Knowledge, however, that is gained, not by words alone, but by varied sensory capabilities such as seeing, hearing, and touching is usually more accurate, more meaningful and more readily retained.  To improve the quality and excellence of education by making learning more tangible and meaningful is, therefore, a primary reason for today’s emphasis upon many different teaching aids (p. 406).

 

Researchers explained that the government of Malawi recognizes the importance of education and encourages the communities to set up their own centers but does not support them financially (RIPPLE Africa).  Barnett (2008) explained that increasing public investment in effective education programs for all children including hearing impaired, can produce substantial educational, social and economic benefits.  According to Torre and MCI (2010), the government of Malawi has very limited involvement in the provision of auditory training.

 

Certain environments appear to be more conducive than others to optimum intellectual, social, and physical development (Lefrancois, 1997).  Lefrancois included that cognitive development may be most sensitive to environmental influences earlier rather than later in life.  The room for auditory training must have acoustic treatments like tiles, ceiling, carpet, chair slippers, sound absorbent surfaces so that reverberation is reduced (Cole, 2016).  In addition, Cole (2016) continued stating that a quiet space is needed so that focus can be only for a child.  In agreement to this, RIPPLE Africa (2001) explained that in most communities in Malawi it is rare that pre-schools have their own school buildings, and many pre-schools share facilities with local churches or other buildings built for different purposes.  There is a need to have special rehabilitation centers for those with hearing impairment.  In concurring to this Wall (1975) is encouraging everybody that we are, and must be, concerned with an attempt to intervene positively in an environment which not only may not provide the necessary cognitive stimuli for the adequate development of learning ability but which may in fact actually be having negative effect through its ineffectiveness. 

Methodology

This chapter describes the methodology that the researcher was using when investigating the study.  The researcher used the phenomenology design of qualitative approach.  Creswell (2014) explains that phenomenological research as a design of inquiry coming from philosophy and psychology in which the researcher describes the lived experiences and perceptions of individuals about a phenomenon as described by participants.  Another researcher describes phenomenology as a philosophic perspective or viewpoint that underlines all qualitative research traditions and customs but it is used to examine the meaning of something from the vantage point of someone who actually experiences that phenomenon (Locke, Silverman & Spirduso, 2010).  The researcher had a chance to observe and interviewed the participants with experience in the phenomenon.

According to this study, phenomenology is the best and right method because it deals with people’s experiences on a particular phenomenon or a situation.  In this study, the connection of auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement has affected different people differently.  As Leedy & Ormrod (2010) explained phenomenological study is a study that challenges to understand people’s perceptions, perspectives and understandings of a specific situation. The researcher used phenomenology in order to understand in depth the experiences of some parents and special needs teachers who are actually connected with auditory training and hearing impaired children.  Phenomenology is the best for this study because it has also allowed participants to express their perceptions and feelings in connection to the situation.  According to Leedy & Ormrod (2010) this will give a better understanding of experiences of others by looking at multiple perspectives on the same situation and the researcher can then make some general remarks from an insider’s perspective.

The study was supposed be conducted at Sandi resource center, ABC hearing clinic and training center and Children of Blessings Trust (COBT).  The researcher also did the study at Msambeta resource center and Area 23 respectively.  There was a change because of the transfer of one of the participants whom the researcher failed to get hold of.  The centers are located in Lilongwe city central west.  The researcher came up with the choice of these centers in order to cover as many diverse factors as possible that have contributed to the connection between auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement in auditory training program for a hearing impaired child. These centers were of a great help to the researcher because they are in different locations that might have different experiences.  The study in these centers also reduced the costs of the research.  These centers are operating as private rehabilitation centers in two different locations with children from different socio-economic backgrounds.    

Six parents and three teachers, all were sampled out purposefully and conveniently in this qualitative study.  The total number of participants was nine, parents and teachers closely connected to children and rehabilitation centers although only five were interviewed.  Leedy & Ormrod (2010) reminded the researchers that there must be careful selection of sample of participants and those directly experience with the phenomenon or situation being studied.   The researcher was interested to know if parents and teachers are able to notice the relationship between auditory training and some factors that contribute to low parental involvement especially that children spend much time with parents and siblings at home than with teachers.  The developmental age of children in terms of auditory, speech and receptive and expressive language skills can be determined through interview with their parents (Jeddi, 2019). 

 

These participants were carefully selected based on the accessibility and convenience of the participants to the researcher.  The centers were accessed without difficulties although the researcher was supposed to obtain permission from the department of Research and Methodology at African Bible College and from the administration and management of the centers.  Creswell (2014) reminded the researchers that prior to the study, researchers need to obtain approval of individuals in authority (e.g., gatekeepers) to gain access to the sites and to study participants.

Some of the ethical issues were followed, like notifying the participants about the date of interviews and allow them to participate willingly.  The researcher also respected the idea of one participant when he said that he did not want to be recorded.  The researcher allowed the participants to choose their best time for interviews.

This study used open-ended questions.  Creswell (2014) stated that the process of research involves emerging questions and procedures, data typically collected in the participant’s setting.  Unstructured interviews with parents and special needs teachers were used together with the already existing data. The researcher shared the main idea, ask questions, listen and identify common themes in participant’s experiences.  It was also the role of the researcher to explain to the participants the significance of the study.  There was a need to plan well and to be well organized as Leedy & Ormrod (2010) explained that the interviews are long and unstructured and it is much in the hands of participants although the researcher and participants work together. The researcher listens closely as participants describe their everyday experiences related to the phenomenon this is where the participants doing more of the talking and the researcher more of the listening. It was a different experience with different participants because others were taking a long time to finish answering the questions while others were trying to be brief because of other commitments.  

The central task during data analysis was to identify common themes in people’s description of their experiences Creswell (1998, as cited in Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).  When analyzing data in phenomenology, there is a need to identify themes that are closely related to the topic.  There is a need to separate relevant from irrelevant and group the statements of different perspectives and perceptions from different participants into meaningful units. 

 

Lately both the government and non-governmental organizations work hand in hand to improve in some of the factors above.  Literature review is showing that poverty is one the factors that hinders parental or caretaker involvement in auditory training of hearing impaired children.  The government of Malawi conducted a child study in 1984 with financial support from UNICEF.  The findings resulted in the establishment of a Community-Based Childcare (CBCC).  Nowadays the government is trying to support the activities of the CBCC but much of the funding is coming from the NGO’s like UNICEF, UNESCO, RIPPLE Africa and many more.  Can the government through the Ministry of disability Education build more resource centers both in rural and urban areas?

The researcher managed to interview five participants where three interviews were recorded, one recorded interview was mistakenly discarded and one participant preferred to talk without recording.  Phone was used to record interviews and questions were used to get answers by transcribing to investigate the relationship between auditory training and speech improvement.  Auditory training is the potential intervention for the management of people with hearing loss (Henshaw, 2013).

The study is qualitative and used open-ended questions.  Creswell (2014) stated that the process of research involves emerging questions and procedures, data typically collected in the participant’s setting.  Unstructured interviews with parents and teachers were used together with the already existing data.  The researcher shared the main idea, ask questions, listen and identify common themes in participant’s experiences. There was a need to plan well and to be well organized as Leedy & Ormrod (2010) explained that the interviews are long and unstructured and it is much in the hands of participants although the researcher and participants work together. The researcher listens closely as participants describe their everyday experiences related to the children’s speech.    



Results

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between auditory training and parental or caretaker involvement.  This will help parents, audiologists, speech therapists, special needs teachers, the community and also the government to come up with strategies that can increase participation of parents in auditory training of their hearing impaired child.  It was important to study this topic because the participants who have encountered with this experience expressed themselves in different ways.  In this chapter the researcher is analyzing data that has been collected through interviews. 

 

The study used a qualitative method with phenomenological design and it was the best to use in this study because the study is dealing with people’s experiences and feelings.  It is also the design that helped the researcher to use open-ended questions where the participants fully expressed themselves.  The interviews were one on one and were conducted with 5 different participants.  These were conducted at Sandi resource center, Children of Blessings Trust, Msambeta resource center and Area 23 respectively.  The study areas were selected because they are accessible to the researcher.  The researcher was also looking for a wide range of information from different participants who have different backgrounds and are experiencing the same situation in different angles of life. 

 

The setting of this study provides the researcher with participants from different socioeconomic background.  This assisted the researcher to vary the reasons of low participation of parents or caretakers in auditory training.  The location also aided the researcher to get worthy and effective information because the special needs teachers have been assisting hearing impaired children for years. The interviews were very helpful in such a way that all the participants contributed to their capacity.  All these participants experienced the phenomenon in different ways.  The participants are of different age groups and with different status. 

Participant

Age

Sex

Education Level

Marital Status

Occupation

Participant 1

51

Male

Degree

Married

Teacher

      

Participant 2

42

Male

Diploma

Married

Parent

Participant 3

23

Female

Degree

Single

Parent

Participant 4

25

Female

Degree

Single

Teacher

Participant 5

33

Male

Diploma

Married

Parent

Figure 1. Demographic information of participants

The participants indicated that poverty is one of the major reasons for a connection between auditory training, education and parental or caretaker involvement.  One of the participants explained that, “in our neighborhood there is a private rehabilitation center but most children are not from our area because their parents cannot afford to pay for the services”.  The results revealed that auditory training centers available in local areas are private and parents are failing to go for sessions with their children in such centers because of the costs.  The results are showing that most of these centers are private and those owned by government do not have resources.  In agreement to this another participant said that, “poverty is the common

 

cause that makes most Malawian hearing-impaired children to miss auditory training sessions, hence missing formal education. They can be fitted with hearing aids but parents can hardly afford money for sessions which includes transport and consultation especially when other things will be required on top of normal sessions”.  One of the participants also said that, “most of the times poverty delays hearing impaired children to go school hence delay with education”.  At this age a child must eat frequently and even pack some snacks for the session breaks”.  Lack of transport and food are some of the factors that hinder a good relationship between auditory training and parental involvement.  This implies that poverty has affected parental or caretaker involvement in auditory training for hearing impaired children.

The results show that lack of resources hinders most parents to be much involved in auditory training sessions with their hearing-impaired children.  One participant said that, “if government can establish rehabilitation centers, it must also provide resources to make work much easier”.  The results indicate that there are a lot of things required in order for a child to start school and to learn well.  This shows that without some resources, the progress of the child’s education can be disturbed.  In agreement to this one participant said that, “when going to help children and parents, materials for different sessions must be available without repeating same things every time”.  Another participant explained that it is boring for the child to be seeing same things over and over again.  They become excited if there is a slight change in games or cards or activity from time to time.  All this equally shows that resources play a significant role in conducting auditory training sessions.  There is an indication that there can be an increase in number of children in pre-schools if parents have required resources needed for a pre-scholar. 


The results also showed that attitude of parents towards auditory training and education is also one of the contributing factors for low involvement of parents or caregivers.  One of the participants said that, “positive attitude towards auditory training sessions and education can help children to achieve their goal in life”.  “As a teacher, I have seen some parents working so hard to bring their children to sessions and the outcome is impressive”.  The results revealed that parents with a positive attitude towards education do not hesitate to help their children in whatever way they can manage.  This shows that some parents have a good outlook on auditory training and education while others have a different viewpoint. Another participant explained that, “some parents develop a negative attitude towards auditory training because of different experiences concerning isolation of children with hearing impairment”.  The participants indicated that positive or negative attitude and civic education of parents equally increases or decreases the number of children coming for auditory training.

 

Three of the participants said that it takes parents to have a positive attitude towards auditory training school so that they can also be fully involved.  One of the three said that, “if parents know the goodness of school and want to invest in their children, they develop a positive attitude and they are eager to come together with their child for auditory training sessions”.  The results shows that parents that had encountered the benefits of school are the ones that encourage their children to attend the sessions.  The results imply that there are certain experiences contributed to parental involvement in auditory training sessions of their children.

The participants emphasized much on civic education especially to those that do not know any goodness of auditory training and education.  One of the participants clarified that, “it is the duty of chiefs together with the community to conduct civic education and awareness campaign so that parents can gain more knowledge about auditory training.  Some parents in Malawi do not register children with hearing impairment or other disabilities in schools not because of money but they lack knowledge”.  This shows that some parents can enroll their children in schools if they can have enough knowledge about their role in their child’s education.  Concurring to this another participant said that, “if the community is well knowledgeable about the significant of auditory training for our hearing impaired children, they can contribute willingly to the demands if required”.  This is stating that civic education can play a big role in increasing the number of hearing-impaired children and their parents in auditory training sessions.  The results from the study revealed that some parents failed to be involved in auditory training with their children because they do not know the significance of auditory training and education.  This shows that most of the times, parents who are well educated are aware about the importance of auditory training.  This also indicates that civic education is important to some parents because it enable them to know the importance of auditory training and education.

The participants also indicated that caring for children with hearing problems is the role of the community and involvement in auditory training and education has an influence for the whole community.  The results show that the community should be very active in education issues even if its building rehabilitation canters before other stakeholders and government.  However, the community must work hand in hand with the government and other stakeholders.  Three of the participants explained that a lot of schools depend on their communities before any government assistance.  One of the participants said that, “as teachers we have been assisted much by parents and the school committees which is comprised of the local people from the community.  One of our school blocks was funded by this community”.   

The participants revealed that special needs teachers should be motivated so that they can teach well and stay long at one school where hearing-impaired children are getting auditory training.  The results show that special needs teachers who are not motivated they move a lot from one school to the other or from teaching to other jobs.  One of the participants said that, “there is a need for the community and government to motivate special needs teachers by appreciating the work that they are doing.  This can be done by concentrating much on the positives rather than on the negatives or criticize when they have done something wrong”.  This shows that teachers must be appreciated.  Despite the fact that teachers can be criticized, there is also a need to applaud them when necessary.  Another participant explained that, “parent-teacher relationship is very important because teachers are able to express themselves”.  In agreement to this, one of the participants said that, “overall, it seems that teachers’ contribution to the performance of children largely depends on parents, community and government”.

Interestingly, the results show that not only teachers need motivation but also children.  Two of the participants said that motivation is an essential tool that can be used to inspire children to come have passion for auditory training sessions.  One of the participants said that, “children love rewards.  If children are doing well, we give the stars not real stars but a written one but they show tremendous happiness.  Sometimes we give them sweets although not always but we could easily see the happiness”.  This participant explained that, “A lot of children know that they are at school when they see swings, toys and all sorts of things to play with, these things give them a will to come to and they are attracted to those things”.  The above statements are indicating that the number of hearing impaired children in auditory training sessions can increase if children are motivated by rewards and if they are provided with things they can play with.

The participants specified on the qualities and qualifications of an effective auditory training teacher.  All the participants mentioned that an effective special needs teacher must be humble, gentle with children, patience, talented, with tender heart, caring and understanding.  While this participant said that, “the auditory trainer must be humble in such a way of reducing oneself to the level of children in so doing, children feel comfortable with you”.  Another participant explained that, “it takes patience to help the hearing impaired child”.  One of the participants elaborated that, “to love and care for children, is not just teaching but it is a ministry”.  All the participants emphasized on the qualifications of an auditory trainer.  One of the participants explained that, “one must possess degree or masters but the problem here in Malawi is that they cannot pay good salary to that kind of a trainer”.  Overall qualities and qualifications of an effective auditory trainer is also one of factors affecting parental involvement in auditory training.

The participants indicated that the government has a major role in contributing to the effectiveness of parental involvement in auditory training.  The findings are showing that there is a need for more government owned auditory training centers and the government must control all including private rehabilitation centers.  One of the participants said that, “there is a need for the government to establish more good rehabilitation centers for hearing impaired children in all regions here in Malawi.  I believe that it is the responsibility of the government to make sure that special needs teachers are allocated in those centers and must be provided with proper housing and resources required in order to make them stay”.  Another participant explains that, “as of now the government is not doing much to improve auditory training and education, this must be included in the government budget”.  The results are indicating that the government is not doing much to improve auditory training programs for hearing impaired children in Malawi.

Discussion

The study investigated the factors contributing to low participation or involvement of parents or caretakers and children in auditory training sessions in Malawi.  The results and findings of the study are indicating that poverty is one of the major factors that hinder hearing impaired children and their parents not to be involved with auditory training sessions.  Lack of resources like transportation and other necessary things required for auditory training are not available to most Malawians.  This is also in agreement to the research done by UNICEF that indicates that in Malawi pre-schools are regarded as a luxury since most families in Malawi cannot afford to pay the fees (2009).   It has been perceived that even if some of the resources are available but the distance to places where auditory training sessions are conducted is not easy.  Most families cannot send their hearing-impaired children to auditory training sessions because of transportation even if they received hearing aids for free.  The results are showing that auditory training programs are not available to majority of hearing-impaired children in Malawi.  However there are other factors that show that it is not only poverty that contribute to low involvement of parents or caretakers and hearing-impaired children to auditory training sessions.

 

The study found out that attitude of parents on auditory training and education has influence their involvement to attend the programs.  This is also seen in both ways whereby other parents who are uneducated are not able to see the need of being involved in the programs of their hearing-impaired children while others want to bring change by giving a chance of education to their hearing impaired children which is the opportunity that they missed. The results are also showing that some parents have a negative attitude towards education of hearing impaired children because of some of the experiences they have encountered.  For instance, some children report to their parents that they are ridiculed at school and they fear that their children will learn bad behaviors from other children who can hear and speak well.  It shows that some parents just choose not to send their hearing impaired children to auditory training programs for various reasons, hence the low number of children attending sessions. 

 

The results from the study are also indicating how community involvement is very important in hearing impaired children’s education.  Communities that can provide civic education to people within the community on the benefits of sending hearing impaired children to auditory training and education can increase the number of hearing impaired children attending programs.  A study done by UNESCO (2000) stated that other supportive factors to education are parents and community interventions.  Another role of the community is to motivate both children and special needs teachers especially in Malawi due to lack of auditory trainers like speech therapists and audiologists who are already overwhelmed with more work. 

 

The study also found out that qualities and qualifications of a special need teacher can contribute to involvement of parents and increase passion for a hearing impaired child to like auditory training programs and education.  Both parents and children can be moved with the knowledge and the character that the teacher is displaying. According to Hyot (1981), education needs a good teacher who is intellectually competent and basically committed.   Children are interested to go to school because they know that they will have fun because their teacher is exciting.  Parents also encourage their hearing-impaired children if they know that the teachers are well knowledgeable and if is excited with what he or she is doing.  Parents also need to have assurance that their children are excited while getting help.  The results are showing that qualifications and qualities of a pre-school special needs teacher play a big role in involvement of parents and hearing-impaired children in auditory training programs.  

Finally, the study found out that the government must be involved in auditory training programs of hearing-impaired children by working hand in hand with parents and all stakeholders.  All stakeholders together with the government must conduct awareness campaigns on the importance of auditory training programs throughout Malawi.  From the results, the government is not allocating more resources to improve auditory training programs here in Malawi.  There is a need for both stakeholders and the government to build more rehabilitation centers for hearing impaired children and train more speech therapists, audiologists and special needs teachers.  These teachers must be paid well according to their qualifications.  One way of motivating these teachers, they must be provided with proper housing, good working conditions, enough resources and even medication.  The government must also monitor the progress of all rehabilitation centers for hearing impaired children here in Malawi both private and community based.

Discussion

In conclusion, the study investigated factors contributing low involvement of parents and hearing-impaired children in auditory training in Lilongwe, Malawi.  Based on the research results and findings, there is a need for the government and other stakeholders to support fully auditory training sessions by  promoting awareness on auditory training programs, more people in Malawi do not know what auditory training is all about as a result do not understand the need of auditory training.  There is a need to build more auditory training centers in all districts so that they must be accessible to all Malawians.  The government and stakeholders must make sure that there are sufficient resources in auditory training centers.  There is a need to employ more qualified special need teachers and motivate them to work on behalf of speech therapists and audiologists.  Finally, it is important to develop and improve auditory training programs by indulging special needs teachers through introduction of in-door and out-door trainings, exposing them to more knowledge concerning auditory training similar to what others are doing outside Malawi. There is need to do more research in this area especially on impact of auditory training.  Some parents, especially here in Malawi believe that hearing impaired children are taught bewitched and cannot achieve great things in life. Some parents believe that their children will learn and be influenced by other culture and beliefs especially if auditory training programs are conducted by others people who are not Malawians.  If possible, there must also be further study on how best to conduct auditory training sessions in local language especially that more resources and materials are in English.



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