Award for special pupil who made top grade

Six special-needs pupils honoured for their achievements after scoring among the top marks in the country in Grade 12 final exam

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Chairman of Adec, presents Sara Ahmed Nabil, 16, with her Best Achievers award. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Sara Ahmed Nabih wasn’t about to let the fact that she uses a wheelchair, has limited use of her hands or difficulty speaking get in the way of a good education.

The 16-year-old Aishah Bint Abu Bakr Al Siddique School graduate was one of six special-education pupils to score among the highest grades in the country in the annual Grade 12 final examination, placing her among 150 who were honoured at the Best Achievers Awards ceremony on Monday.

The ceremony was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

The public school pupils had to earn a mark of at least 98 per cent in the year-end examination to be among the country’s best. Special-needs pupils who achieved a score of 95 per cent or higher in the Grade 12 examination also made the cut.

Each pupil will receive a grant of Dh20,000 as a token of the Government’s appreciation for their hard work and commitment to the country, said Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Adec’s executive director of school operations. Abu Dhabi University has also offered full scholarships to 20 of the pupils.

But for Sara, the prospect of banking thousands of dirhams as a reward for her academic accomplishments wasn’t what motivated her to be among the best.

She was inspired by her older brother, Mahmoud Nabih who, like her, was born with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that affects the nervous system. He died last year aged 25, and was never able to study beyond high school.

Sara said: “I want to continue my studies because my brother never got to complete his studies. He did not finish. He did not go to college because they told him in college nobody will help him and he must write himself, but he could not write. And he could not see good.”

Sara still has her vision and, with some assistance from her family, plans to pursue media studies at one of the local universities.

“Sara, she feels that she can, she can do this and she can complete,” said her younger sister, Shaima, 15. “She tries hard and my mum helps her and her friends, at home and at school, with her studies and everything.”

Sara’s father, Ahmed Mohammad Nabih, said he was very proud of his daughter. “I’m very happy, I’m happy that she was sick and she betters the average, while the people who walk and write, they can’t do this,” said Mr Mohammad, an Egyptian who lives in Abu Dhabi with his wife and three daughters.

“She wants to feel like she is the same as anyone – the same as any person who can walk. She feels that she can do everything. She says, ‘I’m sick, but I can make anything, same as you’. ”

When she went on stage to receive her award from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Chairman of Adec, Sara said she was nervous, but it didn’t stop her from quickly raising an important issue with the minister.

“She talked with him, she said to him that she want to complete her studies and try to travel in any country to help her condition, that she needs his help,” said Shaima. “He said to her, ‘inshallah’.”

rpennington@thenational.ae