DAMMAM – The quality of education offered to students with special needs has come in for criticism. The Ministry of Education’s strategy of integrating special needs students into general education schools has led to charges that teachers are not qualified to deal with students who have disabilities and special needs.
Commenting on the experience of his four hearing-impaired sons in one of the schools in the Eastern Province, Abdullah Al-Ajmi complained of the quality of the education being given to his children.
“Many of the teachers are not trained to teach my sons and they lack the basic understanding to work in the field of special needs,” said Al-Ajmi. “Teachers don’t communicate with the students in sign language which makes them unable to deliver the information to the students,” he added.
“Teachers are looking to increase their income no matter whether they are qualified to teach this group of people or not,” another father said.
The fathers also pointed out that some special needs materials are not available yet. There are shortages in geography, history, mathematics, science, and Arabic and English language books. Moreover, the school lacks some necessary materials, such as, an FM device which helps disabled students to concentrate in classes.
“We have to buy those expensive machines from our own pockets,” said Al-Ajmi, “The hearing-impaired student, for example, needs headphones which cost at least SR6,000.”
The parents also complained that schools for girls with special needs had not been opened nearby. Because there is no such school in Jubail, Ahmed Al-Ghamdi had to send his daughter to a school in Dammam, two hours drive from Jubail. And even that school does not have a teacher specialized in dealing with students with special needs. –Okaz/SG