As part of its efforts to bring a comprehensive community development, the UAE Government launched a national policy for empowering people of determination. The policy aims to create an inclusive society for them and their families, through services and facilities that accommodate their needs.
The UAE Government decided the following:
Referring to people with special needs or disabilities as ‘the determined ones’
Assigning an official at every government institution that will be responsible for facilitating services for people with special needs. The official’s title will be ‘the Service Officer for the Determined Ones’
Setting up an advisory council which will consist of federal and local government entities and members of society who will provide their advice for achieving the goals of the national policy.
Pillars of the national policy
The national policy is based on 6 pillars:
1.Health and rehabilitation: The government will provide a comprehensive high-quality health care, as well as post-accident rehabilitation programmes and health programmes for this segment. It would invest more on researches about special needs, hereditary and rare diseases that cause impediments. A national programme would be launched for early detection and diagnosis of impairments.
2.Education: The government will provide an integrative education system in public and vocational education and adapt school curricula to cater their needs. It will also provide qualified teachers and specialists, appropriate supportive technologies and learning materials.
3.Vocational rehabilitation and employment: The government will provide vocational rehabilitation programmes for people with disabilities. It will initiate supportive policies to recruit them in government and private institutions, in addition to creating a database of information about their needs.
4.Outreach: The government will implement unified criteria for buildings requirements, taking into consideration the needs of people with special needs.
5. Social protection and family empowerment: The government will ensure that federal and local legislations for people with special needs are in harmony with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A hotline will be set up to receive any complaints from the people with special needs.
6. Public life, culture and sports: The government will ensure the integration of people with special needs into various cultural, sports and social activities through various competitions and awareness programmes.
Provisions for people of determination
The term special education describes the programmes and services designed for people of determination (people with special needs) in order to ensure that all students can reach their full potential.
The term 'special educational needs' is used to describe the educational needs of any one with a disability, disorder, difficulty, impairment, exceptionality or any other factor that may affect a student's access to learning and educational performance.
The government of the UAE strongly supports education and learning services for people of determination. In November 2006, the UAE signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol.
Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, is the first law in the UAE to protect the rights of people of determination. Article 12 of the law provides: the country guarantees people with special needs equal opportunities in education within all educational, vocational training, adult education and continuing education institutions in regular classes or special classes with the availability of curriculum in sign language or Braille and or any other methods as appropriate.
Ministry of Education's (MoE) strategy is to adapt public schools to facilitate education for people of determination. Accordingly, people of determination are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception. These students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by MoE. This Department promotes the rights of people of determination and ensures that they have access to the same educational opportunities as students in the regular education system.
Inclusive education for people of determination
The UAE has made big efforts to include people of determination in the mainstream educational settings. Ministry of Education provides expert teachers who specialise in dealing with children of determination.
In 2008, Ministry of Community Development launched an initiative to integrate people of determination in the government education system. The initiative which was launched under the slogan ‘School of All’ and adopted by Ministry of Education was a major step towards the social integration of the disabled and their involvement in the development process.
Dozens of disabled people continue their education, many of whom have graduated from higher education and some received their PhDs.
The National Project for Inclusion of People with Special Needs which was launched in 2008 under the slogan ‘Our Life is in Our Integration’, emphasises on providing the necessary environment and facilities for people of determination in order to facilitate their practical access to the educational system.
After receiving an overwhelming response from the participants in other emirates, the project expanded to the rest of the UAE, underscoring the importance of the community role and partnership in achieving excellence.
Supported by H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of General Women's Union, the National Project for Inclusion is aimed at achieving a complete integration of people of determination into the society at the social, educational, health and environmental levels.
As of academic year 2014-2015, there were 156 public schools across the UAE that implemented this project.
For more information,read:
General Rules for the Provision of Special Education Programs and Services (Public and Private Schools) (PDF 1.72 MB) - Ministry of Education
Quality standards of services for people of determination in government and private institutions (Arabic and English) (PDF 3.14 MB) - Ministry of Community Development
Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework
In support of the ‘My community… a city for every one’ initiative and Dubai Disability Strategy 2020 which aims for Dubai to become disability-friendly by 2020, Knowledge and Human Development Authority - KHDA launched the Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework (PDF).
The framework provides valuable information about the standards required in the area of educational practice and offers clear guidance on the actions to be taken to ensure the provision of quality inclusive services for students of determination (disabled or people with special needs).
The framework applies to all education sectors across Dubai. It includes early childhood services, special needs centres and primary, secondary and higher education providers. It also empowers education providers, regulatory authorities and governing bodies in Dubai to closely monitor progress and compliance.
MoE offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children of determination, their parents and kindergarten teachers.
Programmes include guidance for dealing with people with visual and hearing disabilities, talent identification programmes, getting familiar with sign language for the deaf and handling speech and language disorders in kindergarten-going children.
Ministry of Education has set up support centres to follow up and evaluate the progress of people of determination before and after integration in schools. These centres provide various services including individual diagnosis of students with disabilities and learning difficulties, recommendations, helping and supporting parents to deal with the child's situation and directing them to sources with appropriate support services for their child.
National institutes concerned with people of determination can benefit from annual grants and rewards and professional programmes for qualifying experts in the field of special education.
Community Development Authority (CDA) offers tuition assistance in cash up to AED 50,000 per year to low-income earners with children that have disabilities.
Centres for people of determination
There are many government and private organisations, centres and clubs that provide training and rehabilitation to people of determination (people with special needs). Ministry of Community Development is responsible for issuing licences to private organisations and centres working in the field of care, education and training of people of determination. Refer to the services provided by Ministry of Community Development for people of determination.
Key government centres for people of determination
Key government centres include:
Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination (ZHO) is an umbrella for all humanitarian bodies, social services, people of determination institutions and any future bodies established in Abu Dhabi for humanitarian goals. Learn more about Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination.
Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) is an independent organisation in the emirate of Sharjah aiming at serving people of determination in the UAE. Under the umbrella of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, SCHS serves annually more than 3,000 people with determination from different nationalities and age groups. Learn more about Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.