The Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework launched on Thursday by the Inclusive Education Taskforce, headed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, has, in a single stroke of a concerted policy, ushered in a new era of equal opportunities for children with special needs. By mandating all private education providers, including early learning centres, schools and universities, to be fully compliant with the policy of inclusion by 2020, it has set into motion a welcome transformation of the education landscape in Dubai.

This move is in line with the Dubai Disabilities Strategy and part of a larger goal of making Dubai a disability-friendly city by 2020 through the ‘My community ... a city for everyone’ initiative. Although inclusivity is a work-in-progress, with some Dubai private schools opening their doors to children with special needs, the welcome mat is yet selective. The Inclusive Policy will now ensure that this welcome becomes a leit motif across the education portals in Dubai.

The importance of doing away with the marginalisation of children with special needs cannot be overemphasised. The more they are integrated with the mainstream educational opportunities and environment, the higher are the chances of them reaching their full potential in life. This opportunity will also lead to an organic sensitising of mainstream students to children of determination and the necessity for this also cannot be overstated. For too long have children with special needs been cloistered and for too long have mainstream students been unaware of the power of inclusivity. It is now time to erase the boundary that has separated the two and facilitate a social harmony that will work towards the betterment of all, and at the expense of none.