x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 August 2017

Master's degree in special education being offered

Zayed University aims to increase number of specialist teachers able to work with special needs pupils.

Zayed University is to begin offering a master's degree in special education to increase the number of teachers able to work with special needs pupils. There have been ongoing concerns about the shortage of places for people with special needs in the UAE, with few mainstream schools catering for special needs education.

Dr Chet Jablonski, the university's assistant provost for research and graduate studies, said its college of education found "a real need" for the course in special education. "Like a lot of places in the world, this is a problem that society has to deal with - to give everybody the best opportunity they can for education," he said. "That's the purpose [of the course] - to train teachers so special programmes can be developed for UAE children with special needs.

"This is the kind of thing a university of this stature, a national university, should be doing." The special education master's is one of eight new courses being launched this year. The others include international business, cyber security, and finance and tourism communication. Graduate certificate courses in high-technology crime investigation and information security are also being launched. A range of American institutions, including the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, Florida University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, will help to teach the courses, initially face-to-face with students at the university's campuses in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and later by distance learning.

Dr Daniel Johnson, the university's provost, said the courses were "in response to the areas where professional qualifications are needed here in the country". The university, originally a female-only institution, has recently started to take male students. While undergraduate programmes are limited to Emiratis, postgraduate courses are open to people of any nationality and men and women are taught together.

Dr Jablonski said the university was "quite careful" about admissions to postgraduate courses in terms of academic quality, and allowing students of any nationality to apply helped to maintain high standards. "We feel an international client base is optimal for generating the best results," he said. "For the programmes we are offering, you have to think globally and learn how to co-operate." dbardsley@thenational.ae