Dubai: In line with the UAE's policy to integrate students with special needs into mainstream education, 21 Emirati female teachers will be trained as assistant teachers to help these students.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the British University in Dubai (BUiD) and the UAE Down's Syndrome Association (UAEDSA) to train the assistant teachers, which will be funded by the Emirates Foundation.
The step aims to support the Ministry of Education's efforts to include children with special needs in mainstream schools across the Emirates.
The MoU provides for designing a course and training three Emirati women from each emirate. The Ministry of Education plans to create a national employment cadre of assistant teachers for the first time in line with its strategy to engage them by October 2013.
The assistant teacher training programme is an opportunity for Emirati women with secondary school education who were unable to pursue a bachelors degree to take up a career in teaching, Dr Eman Gaad, Dean of Education Faculty and Director of the project, said.
The programme includes a six-month training course on dealing with students with special needs, followed by six months of practical training, she said.
The assistant teacher will work with students with special needs in the classroom to help them cope and help the teacher achieve the educational goals, Dr Eman said.
Although at this stage the course will have only 21 trainees, Dr Eman said this was only the first stage, and more assistant teachers will be trained in later phases of the project, including men.
"The focus at this stage is on woman teachers as primary school teachers, but we are planning to include male assistant teachers to work at boys' preparatory and secondary schools," she said.
Prof Abdullah Al Shamsi, Vice-Chancellor of The British University in Dubai, said students with Down's Syndrome as well as other students with disabilities, must be included in mainstream education in line with the UAE's commitments to the United Nations.
"The assistant teacher will help class teachers accept children with disabilities, as teachers could resist the idea because it adds to their burden," he said.