x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Better training needed to help disabled in schools, study finds

More specialists are needed to help students with disabilities succeed in state schools, according to a new study.

More specialists are needed to help students with disabilities succeed in state schools, according to a study released yesterday. The report stemmed from one of 13 research proposals that won funds in the Emirates Foundation's 2008 Special Needs grants competition. The research was led by Dr Eman Gaad, a senior lecturer at the British University in Dubai. Recommendations include better training and more public awareness on the benefits of including special-needs students in the classroom.

The study, which the foundation said was the first of its kind in the region, identified the need for placing more specialists, such as speech therapists and special education teachers, in schools to provide guidance and support. In interviews, teachers also highlighted a need for more support from administrators. The research has also shown many schools need to improve accessibility for physically disabled students.

Over 14 months, the researchers gathered views of government school teachers, principals and parents on the Ministry of Education's Inclusion Policy to assess what changes needed to be made. In the next academic year, 10 public schools will serve children with visual or hearing impairments, or Down syndrome. Dr Gaad and her team selected three state primary schools in each of the emirates and completed more than 150 interviews, more than 50 classroom observations and numerous questionnaires with parents, teachers and principals.

"Implementation of the study's recommendations will help children with intellectual and physical challenges reach their full potential," said Dr Mona al Bahar, senior executive adviser for the foundation's social development programmes. hhassan@thenational.ae *Additional reporting by Daniel Bardsley