Reforming Special Education and Teacher Training in Egypt

As we move ahead and pave the way to a New Egypt I sincerely hope that an important item on the agenda of change will be Education, education for all! This must include children in Egypt with special needs. It has been my mission since 1994 to develop services for these children. Those who share this mission with me and have set up NGOs in Egypt such as the Advance Society or Nidaa, know that it has been an ongoing struggle. I don’t think it will be a struggle any more we have seen what people power and passion can do. When Maha Helali and I were interviewed on El Beit Betaik almost 5 years ago, I was asked why I was not in London with my family. My response was that there are at least 6-8 million people with special needs in Egypt and only 4-5% of those people receive services. In January 2009, I prepared a report and submitted it to Mrs Mubarak regarding the need to train teachers in Egypt. The request was to train teachers in Early Childhood Special Education with a focus on ASD. The reply was that there are not enough children who need this support. As we move forwards into a wonderful new era I hope we can rectify this situation. There is of course a great need to train teachers in Egypt in both general and special education. We need to revise the curriculum used in schools, we need to get rid of books, which regurgitate rhetoric and instead make learning fun. We need to have graduate degrees in education that are current and practical, we need to have preschools which incorporate best practice with qualified teachers. The ability to speak a foreign language should not be the criteria for hiring a teacher. We need to teach children how to use technology responsibly and to develop assessment tools and services for children with special needs. What was a dream will soon be a reality.

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