Provisions for people of determination
The term special education describes the programmes and services designed for people of determination (people with special needs) in order to ensure that all students can reach their full potential.
The term 'special educational needs' is used to describe the educational needs of any one with a disability, disorder, difficulty, impairment, exceptionality or any other factor that may affect a student's access to learning and educational performance.
The government of the UAE strongly supports education and learning services for people of determination. In November 2006, the UAE signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol.
Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, is the first law in the UAE to protect the rights of people of determination. Article 12 of the law provides: the country guarantees people with special needs equal opportunities in education within all educational, vocational training, adult education and continuing education institutions in regular classes or special classes with the availability of curriculum in sign language or Braille and or any other methods as appropriate.
Ministry of Education's (MoE) strategy is to adapt public schools to facilitate education for people of determination. Accordingly, people of determination are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception. These students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by MoE. This Department promotes the rights of people of determination and ensures that they have access to the same educational opportunities as students in the regular education system.
Inclusive education for people of determination
The UAE has made big efforts to include people of determination in the mainstream educational settings. Ministry of Education provides expert teachers who specialise in dealing with children of determination.
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 the 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 which was launched in 2008 under the slogan ‘Our Life is in Our Integration’, emphasises on providing the necessary environment and facilities for people of determination in order to facilitate their practical access to the educational system.
After receiving an overwhelming response from the participants in other emirates, the project expanded to the rest of the UAE, underscoring the importance of the community role and partnership in achieving excellence.
Supported by H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of General Women's Union, the National Project for Inclusion is aimed at achieving a complete integration of people of determination into the society at the social, educational, health and environmental levels.
As of academic year 2014-2015, there were 156 public schools across the UAE that implemented this project.
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MoE 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.
Ministry of Education 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.
National institutes concerned with people of determination can benefit from annual grants and rewards and professional programmes for qualifying experts in the field of special education.
Community Development Authority (CDA) offers tuition assistance in cash up to AED 50,000 per year to low-income earners with children that have disabilities.
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