Bahrain ensures the right of special needs children to education
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Students with disabilities bring new strengths into the classroom. Unfortunately, the focus ‘mostly’ is on what children with disabilities lack instead of what they do well.
Bahrain, however, is walking a different path in this scenario and ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities to education.
According to the Ministry of Education, Bahrain has over 106 students enrolled in autism classes in the public schools of the Kingdom, of which 56 are in regular classes.
There are also over 21 schools - 18 schools for boys and three schools for girls- to support students with Autism spectrum disorder.
The move is part of Bahrain’s inclusive education policy, which subjects all students to similar learning-teaching methods regardless of their social and cultural background and abilities and skills.
The details came as the Education Ministry marked the International Day of Autism Awareness Day, which falls every year on 2nd April.
Bahrain is also one of the first countries in the Gulf and the Arab region to adopt the early intervention strategy of providing special classrooms in the school environment.
Five teachers per school
Integration of children with autism disorder started in the Kingdom from the academic year 2010-2011 with three primary schools. In the academic year 2019-2020, 179 schools are in the programme. The education ministry said it maintains five qualified teachers per school at the rate of one teacher per student according to the international standards of autism programmes.
There are mentors to address behavioural problems, communication specialists, and classrooms with appropriate equipment and furniture.
International programmes such as the TEACH programme to organise the classroom environment, the ABA Applied Behaviour Analysis programme, the PECS communication system to develop social and linguistic communication, and the comprehensive early childhood development programme (Portage) are also in force.
The ministry said it is continuing its learning process through digital applications, an educational portal, the ClassDojo programme, and WhatsApp amid the current exceptional circumstances.
Bahrain is also making use of the Portage model for young children with disabilities from birth to six years of age, with parents to train them in life skills and activate them at home.
For the academic year 2020- 2021, the ministry uploaded 84 lessons for students with autism for the first semester and 43 for the second semester to the educational portal and YouTube channel of the Department of Special Education.