How Dubai Is Building a More Accessible Educational Environment for Special Needs Children

Via Augusta Family Magazine.

According to a newly released report by Dubai’s School Inspection Bureau, thousands of children with special needs have enrolled to study in Dubai’s private schools. In this past year alone, the number of disabled children increased by an additional 3,500 students, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KDHA).

The rise in numbers directly correlates to an improved educational environment specialized to cater to the needs of ‘people of determination’, who now account for about six percent of the 278,794-strong school population.

The report discussed recent inspections in schools, which found that 71 percent of schools are up to the required standard, providing a good or better quality of education for those with mental or physical disabilities. In contrast to 2018, there has been a major improvement, as last year the schools barely made it to 66 percent.

The study has also found that the inclusion of those with special needs was a major factor in the rising number of students with disabilities in Dubai’s classroom.

Things have changed since the KDHA released new guidelines in January of this year, obligating all private schools to cater to the needs of people of determination, with 18 schools improving as a result.

Furthermore, the report has found out that nine out of 10 schools have enhanced one or more of their quality indicators such as students’ outcomes, schools’ provisions for learners, and leadership.

“KHDA’s efforts to promote inclusive education was also reflected in the progress of students of determination,” said Fatma Belrehif, the chief executive officer of the Dubai School Inspection Bureau, speaking to The National.

Now that KDHA has set the goal, schools are running around the clock to achieve full integration and inclusion before the end of the year, and as a result, they are accepting more and more special needs students.

And, it is true, many schools in Dubai were already inclusive before the new guidelines, but others refused admission to those with a disability. Now, they are reviewing their acceptance policy, making sure it is compatible with KDHA’s guidelines.

“In schools that make a difference, they prioritise the staff’s professional development to ensure quality-first teaching happens in every classroom. In addition, leaders should work in partnership with parents and the wider community to support the needs of these students,” said Andrea Allen, 45, a learning support assistant and a mother of a 12-year-old who is on the autism spectrum.

She also went on to add that attitude in schools has been changing gradually. However, Mrs Allen believes that there is still much more to be done.

WE SAID THIS: Check out the original KDHA’s guidelines here!