Inclusive and Special Education in the Middle East
- Hala ElhowerisHala ElhowerisUnited Arab Emirates University
- and Efthymia EfthymiouEfthymia EfthymiouUnited Arab Emirates University
In the culturally diverse Middle Eastern Arabian world, there are incompatible ideas about and definitions of “inclusion” and “inclusive education,” which result in these terms being multifaceted and complex. The issues surrounding policies, the legislative frameworks—but also the attitudes and practices and their implications for individuals with Special Educational Needs and Disorders (SEND)—are explored in this paper, starting with some consideration of the official guidelines for providing inclusive education and how these are enacted according to the social or local conceptualizations that influence practice. Around the world, the tendency is to support special needs in mainstream classes with other children at all school levels in order to prevent marginalization, labeling, and social stigmatization. However, in the process of developing effective educational policies that benefit students with SEND in practice, it is useful to consider whether inclusion actually serves their needs. Though some progress has been reported in the social integration and inclusion of individuals with SEND, more light needs to be shed on whether, under current circumstances inclusion does indeed benefit people with special needs and disabilities. An analysis of the necessary parameters for supporting a learning environment for the benefit of all children in an inclusive mainstream class is necessary. The examination of inclusion-based practices can help to dispel the misconceptions that consistently surround the practice of educating students with disabilities in any inclusive environment. Recommendations are made for community-oriented sensitization programs and education campaigns but also school-based disability awareness programs and teacher training that could be promoted by governmental organizations, human rights bodies, and other stakeholders in the Arab world to support and empower people with disabilities.