Abu Dhabi: More effort is needed to include people of determination in the mainstream educational settings and give them equal rights to education, a member of the Federal National Council said on Wednesday.

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman, a member of the House from Dubai, said all 11,000 determined school students, regardless of any challenges they may have, should be placed in age-appropriate general education classes that are in their own neighbourhood schools to help them receive high quality instruction, interventions, and support that enable them to meet success in the core curriculum.

Bin Sulaiman also demanded that the quality of learning for all children with special needs be identified as a strategic priority in the education sector plans, including teacher training, equipping teachers with better teaching material and instruction.

Learning needs

The member called for measuring learning achievement of children of determination enrolled in schools, as well as curriculum development and adaptation to respond to the diverse learning needs of students, and giving teachers the opportunity to adapt lesson plans so all students can participate, learn and succeed.

According to 2016 statistics from the Ministry of Community Development, there are around 16,000 people with disabilities in the UAE, 62 per cent of whom are Emiratis.

Unesco estimates that between 93 million and 150 million children live with disabilities worldwide. They are one of the most marginalised and excluded groups of children. They are often overlooked in humanitarian action, due to the limited resources available.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 90 per cent of children with disabilities in the developing world are out of school.

Training for teachers

Even when children with disabilities are enrolled in school, they are often excluded from learning as the curriculum is not adapted to their needs and the teachers do not have the training or time to provide individualised support and learning assistance.

“School infrastructure should be developed to integrate students with determination and inaccessible school buildings and facilities should be rehabilitated,” Bin Sulaiman said.

She demanded that disability data collection be improved and ensure effective coordination strategies between the various ministries responsible for supporting children with disabilities.

Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, told the House the UAE’s inclusive education policy was presented to the Education and Human Resources Council, chaired by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, for approval.

“Once approved, the policy which envisages to lay down a roadmap for inclusive education which would enable UAE’s determined students to compete internationally, will be submitted to the Cainet for final endorsement,” Al Muhairi said.

In 2008, Ministry of Community Development launched an initiative to integrate people of determination in the government education system. The initiative which was launched under the slogan ‘School of All’ and adopted by Ministry of Education was a major step towards social integration of the disabled and their involvement in the development process. Dozens of disabled people continue their education, many of whom have graduated from higher education and some received their PhDs. The National Project for Inclusion of People with Special Needs emphasises on providing the necessary environment and facilities for people of determination in order to facilitate their practical access to the educational system.

11,000

the number of students who have disabilities across the country

In 2008, Ministry of Community Development launched an initiative to integrate people of determination in the government education system.

The initiative which was launched under the slogan ‘School of All’ and adopted by Ministry of Education was a major step towards social integration of the disabled and their involvement in the development process.

Dozens of disabled people continue their education, many of whom have graduated from higher education and some received their PhDs.

The National Project for Inclusion of People with Special Needs emphasises on providing the necessary environment and facilities for people of determination in order to facilitate their practical access to the educational system.

The Ministry of Education offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children of determination, their parents and kindergarten teachers. Programmes include guidance for dealing with people with visual and hearing disabilities, talent identification programmes, getting familiar with sign language for the deaf and handling speech and language disorders in kindergarten-going children.

88.5%

the satisfaction rate of parents of determined students over inclusive education system

The Ministry of Education offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children of determination, their parents and kindergarten teachers.

Programmes include guidance for dealing with people with visual and hearing disabilities, talent identification programmes, getting familiar with sign language for the deaf and handling speech and language disorders in kindergarten-going children.

The ministry has set up support centres to follow up and evaluate the progress of people of determination before and after integration in schools. These centres provide various services including individual diagnosis of students with disabilities and learning difficulties, recommendations, helping and supporting parents to deal with the child’s situation and directing them to sources with appropriate support services for their child.

Saeed Al Rumaithi, a member from Abu Dhabi, demanded that students nationwide have access to sports and athletics education programmes.

Statistics released by Ministry of Public Education:

11,000 the number of students who have disabilities across the country

88.5 per cent the satisfaction rate of parents of determined students over inclusive education system

In-school infrastructure:

2,845 accessible toilets

123 accessible lifts  

1,329 wheelchair ramps built in schools across the UAE

Five playing fields built, construction underway for 19 more