A recent UAE study has found that more than half of all teachers in Indian and Pakistani schools believe children with special needs should not be placed in mainstream education.
Dr Smitha Dev, assistant professor of psychology at Abu Dhabi University and co-author of the recent study told the National, that in the survey of 200 teachers, 52 percent had “an unfavourable perception towards integration”.
The study, Teacher’s Perception towards Integration of Learning Disabled Students into Regular Class Room – A study in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Schools, was recently published in the online journal Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, and has surprised many around the UAE.
Dr Dev noted that the negative response to children with special educational needs was a combination of poor teacher training and support, a lack of awareness and even teacher gender and age.
“They are not receiving any proper help from the schools. If you’re asking them to prepare an individualised educational programme, they don’t know about it.”
He did note however that in general, women were “more enthusiastic and passionate about working with children with learning disabilities than men, and teachers older than 40 had a more positive perception.”
Another issues identified by Dr Dev within these schools was the combination of large classes and low teacher pay, with salaries around Dh2,000 to Dh3,000, he believes teachers just don’t have the motivation to do it.
Given the UAE has now united its school inspection framework and integrated ‘inclusion’ as part of this, it is up to these schools to now take the issue forward and improve their service for children with special educational needs if they hope to gain favourable inspection results, regardless of which Emirate their school might be located within.