Reform ought to include special needs children

A society is judged by the provision it makes for the disabled, a reader says. Stephen Lock / The National
A society is judged by the provision it makes for the disabled, a reader says. Stephen Lock / The National

It is inspiring to see the confident action on education being enacted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (Sheikh Mohammed: fulfilling Dubai’s potential will require new ways of thinking, August 31). These reforms will provide an “elite” stream for gifted children and are ambitious and far reaching; they will surely be of immense benefit to the future of this country in a globally competitive marketplace.

However, a society is also judged by the provision it makes for the least able of its members, and I was therefore disappointed not to see any mention of provision for special needs pupils in the reforms.

Contrary to popular belief, these young people often have enormous potential, which can be unlocked by specialist interventions at an early age. This is especially true of autistic children, who often have amazing skills that they are unable to develop through mainstream standard provision. Many of the world’s leading scientists and innovators are examples of developed autistic skills.

My wife has an MA in special needs, and years of training in a top UK special needs school before coming to teach here, but after three years she has still been unable to find a position where she can fully use her talents that can transform the lives of special needs children.

I sincerely hope that there is an understanding among those enacting these reforms that leaving out special needs pupils will neglect a resource that can massively repay a nation’s attention to it if addressed.

Teaching special needs pupils does require a different provision, and is not easy; but the rewards and benefit to the lives of those pupils and society can be immense.

Andy Preston, Abu Dhabi

Make properties disabled friendly

There are quite a few property projects that are disabled-friendly (Non-Muslims must register wills at DIFC Courts to avoid inheritance issues, September 1) with wide ramps at entry / building access / car park / pools and so on. They need a little modification inside to make them wheelchair friendly. I’m a property agent and a former wheelchair user, so I know what to look for.

Dubai has great plans of making the city one of the world’s most disabled-friendly and many initiatives have already been taken towards this objective. All we need is just more awareness. I am proud to be living in Dubai.

Siv Hartvigsen, Dubai

Humanities can’t be ignored

Regarding your editorial Education reforms are needed (August 31), if art and humanities are to be ignored, then why has this country bothered to build the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and the Opera House in Dubai?

Name withheld by request

I believe in learning and transforming ideas through art and music and I hope our schools understand this (Education reforms are needed, August 31). I know some private international schools such as Amity International in Abu Dhabi are laying emphasis on these subjects.

I know that it is really helpful. My daughter is learning how to understand and love people through art and music.

Um Malak, Abu Dhabi

Students should be allowed to choose the subjects they are interested in for grades 11 and 12 (Education reforms are needed, August 31). If you are not passionate about something, you won’t put in the required time and effort to achieve. Additionally, the maximum number of subjects taken should be four, so students can better focus on their chosen discipline.

Furthermore, if students are not fluent in their own vernacular by this age, they never will be. Also, English should not be compulsory. Not everyone’s brain is hard-wired to successfully learn a second language, so other options should be available for these students.

Finally, and probably the most important factor that should be instilled in learners today is not to obsess about the final goal, as perfecting the process is as important, if not more so, than the final product.

Name withheld by request

Published: September 1, 2016 04:00 AM


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