UAE | Education

Schools come up short for special needs pupils

One in ten Indian curriculum schools fails to provide necessary support

  • By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 17:45 January 28, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Thousands of children with special educational needs enrolled at Indian curriculum schools are getting inadequate support, a new report by Dubai’s education authority has found.

There are significant shortcomings in terms of extending support to students with special educational needs at one in ten Indian curriculum schools, the 2012/2013 inspections report for Indian and Pakistani schools released by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) yesterday said.

Out of the 60,000 students attending Indian curriculum schools in Dubai, about 3,113 students were identified by the schools to have special educational needs, which is around 5 per cent of the total enrolment.

This number is lower compared to the worldwide average; however officials found it indicative of “weak and imprecise identification processes”.

“We came across many children with special needs burdened with studying the same material as all other children. This hinders their progress and puts them under lot of stress,” Jameela Al Muhairi, chief of the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau at KHDA, told Gulf News.

Most schools still lack an international perspective regarding special educational needs, she said.

“In too many schools, their identification is too slow and inaccurate. Learning difficulties are not accurately identified by staff, and students are not supported effectively in class by mainstream teachers,” Al Muhairi added.

Of the 3,113 students identified, 824 were found to have learning difficulties and 758 had medical conditions or health-related disability (such as asthma, diabetes etc). About 36 pupils had sensory and physical issues (such as blindness), 26 were disabled and 505 had behavioural, social and emotional issues that presented barriers to learning. Among the special needs children were also 964 gifted and talented students who demonstrated outstanding ability or aptitude in one or more areas of creative and academic achievement.

The Indian consul general Sanjay Verma, who attended the release of the inspection report, said it is high time schools and authorities took notice of the issue of students with special educational needs. “I know that schools are constrained by limited resources, but it is commendable that this issue is now in the forefront and is being addressed by school leaders as well as KHDA,” he said.

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