Following the successful gala event, 'Music is our Voice', which brought together people of determination and the local school community in a spectacular celebration of music, Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Chancellor, Mr. Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, has spoken to Edarabia about the institution's actions towards promoting inclusion.
Why did CUD organize a music gala for people of determination? Would this be a yearly event?
The event was organized as part of the University’s ongoing endeavors to promote inclusion, understanding and coexistence, in the spirit of the UAE Year of Tolerance. Since 2017 we have seen the Canadian University Dubai EnSEmble grow and flourish into an extraordinary realization of individual and collective talent. We wanted to share that talent with our local community to mark Autism Awareness month.
We know from our work with people of determination that awareness and inclusion across wider society remain among the biggest challenges they face in everyday life. Canadian University Dubai wanted to bring people together in an inclusive celebration of music to help further advance the conversation about autism in the UAE; to change the discourse into concrete action and progress across every aspect of society – from education and employment to cultural and social interactions. The gala was also hosted as a fundraising event, to help support therapy, care and community initiatives for children affected by autism spectrum disorder. We have been delighted by the response and similar future events.
Studies suggest that sports are associated not only with social inclusion, but also with physical wellbeing and the enhancement of self-esteem. Does music have the same effect?
Absolutely, music is by definition inclusive, without boundaries, music does not discriminate against anyone. Numerous studies have shown that the effect of music on confidence levels and self-esteem is significant. For instance, music has helped young people in conflict areas to cope with stress. In other contexts, music has given young refugees a voice allowing them to be active participants in society. Music has had, over the history of mankind, an incredible unifying and healing power.
How does CUD cater to students of determination?
Canadian University Dubai was among the first universities in the UAE to welcome students with special educational needs, and has supported more than 100 determined students facing a range of personal challenges, from visual impairment to autism.
The University has a number of formal support structures in place, such as scholarships for individuals with special needs, tutoring programs that offer one-on-one academic support, and a dedicated student counselor to offer pastoral care throughout the students’ studies. However, the essence of our approach is to tailor our support to the specific needs of each individual and to work with families to achieve this, not only from the practical perspective of delivering an education, but also to ensure that we support their social, cognitive and emotional development to achieve success.
Are schools equipped to meet the needs of gifted students in the regular education (inclusion) classroom?
Canadian University Dubai is able to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of students of all backgrounds. This means creating inclusive classrooms and providing the supplementary support measures to those students with special education needs, from additional academic tutoring or personal counseling, to extracurricular activities that provide an outlet for personal creative expression.
How does CUD equip its students with the right skills to enter the workforce? Are any special measures taken to prepare students of determination for the same?
All of our academic programs are industry-driven and are designed to develop the employability of our students. As market needs are constantly evolving, we regularly talk to our advisory boards, alumni and employers of our graduates to gauge if our courses match their specific current and future needs.
What we’ve learnt from this is that employers are increasingly looking for qualities and skills that transcend typical sector boundaries. Competencies such as teamwork, leadership, reasoning, responsiveness and ethics are the skills that will help the future workforce to navigate the rapid pace of change. These are the skills that students develop through their practical work, which includes course-related internships, but also through special initiatives like the Canadian University Dubai EnSEmble.