Ministry to collect statistics on those with special needs

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I don’t know where to direct parents when they ask me for a private school suitable for their special needs child, says Noura Al Moutawa, Director of Special Education section at Administrative Services Unit.

Ministry to collect statistics on those with special needs
By Siham Al Najami, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 10, 2008, 23:32

Dubai: The Department of Special Needs Education in the Ministry of Education (MOE) is willing to integrate various cases and increase the capacity of special needs pupils only if they have the equipment, facilities and sufficient training programmes.

However the MOE still does not have reliable statistics on the number of pupils with special needs that are partially and fully integrated into schools.

Dr Aisha Al Jalahma, Director of the department said they are working on compiling this data to create a report on the list of materials, human resources and programmes needed to develop special education.

“Special certificates” for special needs pupils integrated into public schools will be issued upon their completion of an academic year and upon their graduation from their schools, she said. The department has also developed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for these students, which is in line with the integration of pupils with Down’s Syndrome and with the recent initiative of including pupils with autism.

Modified curriculum

Special needs pupils included in mainstream schools will study with peers in their age group but will have a modified curriculum.

Noura Al Moutawa, dir-ector of the Special Education section at the Administrative Services Unit in Dubai said much is needed to improve special needs education in private schools.

“I don’t know where to direct parents when they ask me for a private school suitable for their special needs child. We hardly have any private schools catering for these children,” she said.

There are also negative consequences in taking in children with special needs without the approval of the MOE as many of the schools are inaccessible for children with special needs. At the same time, teachers and the administration are not trained to deal with these special cases.

Before enrolling a student with special needs, the Special Education Unit looks into the applicant’s forms and documents. The child is then interviewed by the speech therapist; special needs specialist and psychiatrist followed by a comprehensive report sent to the MOE for approval.

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