Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Education has adopted a new project to provide services to students with special needs. The project will take effect this school year.
The assistance project entails distributing a monthly allowance to students with chronic health problems and/or physical disabilities.
Students in primary education will be eligible for a monthly sum of SR300, those in intermediate education SR375 and those in high school SR400, with an additional SR5,000 annually to help families with special needs children meet expenses and purchase necessary school supplies.
Every district in the Kingdom’s major cities is required to have at least three different schools that are prepared to accommodate students with disabilities.
These schools must have on board special education teachers that are trained to communicate and interact with children with learning disabilities and also physical handicaps.
The general education teachers will also receive orientation courses so that they can successfully integrate and welcome students with special needs smoothly into the rest of the class. Children with disabilities will not be shunned from the Kingdom’s schools nor deprived of a decent education.
Additional services and equipment will be made available for children who need assistance, even those with partial paralysis, cleft foot, delayed mental development, muscular and skeletal disorders, and heart disorders.
Each student applying to the schools will be physically, intellectually, and emotionally assessed by a team of educators, specialists, and psychologists to determine specifically what type of assistance they will need throughout the school year.
The Ministry of Education has restricted the number of students with special needs to five for every classroom, with a maximum of 25 children in total for each class.
It also stipulates that students with disabilities can only be accepted into a class in which they have no more than a two years age gap between them and their classmates.
If the student later encounters extreme hardship in attending classes, they will be offered the option to complete their studies through distance learning and upon completion of final exams can graduate with the rest of the class. Much work and improvements are being done on school buildings to make them more friendly and accessible to students with special needs including exit and entry doors, classrooms, washrooms, laboratories, play areas, and canteens.
As part of the project, parents of students with special needs will also be invited to attend educational and awareness workshops to help them support their children better and overcome the many obstacles they may face.