Pre-university education is by far the most important factor affecting the growth of any Nation. Starting 1990, Egypt has adopted “Education for All” strategy and has taken major steps along that track. For the first time, it has been stated in the Constitution of 2014 that 4% of the national GDP is to be directed towards education. This has been a direct response to international statistics quantifying the quality of education in Egypt to be that low such that Egypt has scored last in the “quality of education” as per the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/2014 issued by the World Economic Forum. In spite of all attempts to raise the education standard bar in Egypt, a significant category of children has been overlooked, namely children with disabilities and special-needs.
Egypt has reached a total population size of 90 million. In 2014 The number of students enrolled in pre-university education according to “Children in Egypt 2014 – A statistical Digest” by UNICEF is about 20 million. Statistics of World Health Organization quantify the number of people living with disabilities in Egypt to be about 12 million, of whom around 4 million are children. Only 2% of those, however, have access to rehabilitation services. Disabilities have a very wide spectrum, part of which is physical and most of which is intellectual. According to US. Department of Education annual report, 49.9% of children with disabilities are diagnosed with Learning Disabilities, 12.3% diagnosed with Intellectual Disability, 10% with Behavioral Disorder and Autism. This sums up to about 2.8 million Egyptian children with intellectual/psychological disability or disorder.
The Ministry of Education has realized the size of the problem and in 2007, the minister of education issued a groundbreaking decree to introduce the inclusion program for students with different levels of mental and academic disabilities in Egyptian schools. Currently there are about 500 schools (out of 47000) who offer this program.
In spite of the increasing number of mentally challenged students, the availability of the supporting teaching staff, resources and facilities is by far lacking. In Egypt, there is no academic program that qualifies schoolteachers or special education teachers to practically and efficiently handle the academic, pedagogical and social needs of those inclusion students. The very little available programs are postgraduate programs in special education in general with no specialization or implementation learning outcome. Therefore, mainstream teachers who have some of those children in their classes are not trained to manage this kind of interactivity, and the potential social and academic discrepancy by other students and sometimes parents. This has seriously affected the academic/social development of those remarkable children in such a way that limits to a great extent the objectives and outcomes of the established inclusion initiative in Egypt. Training of teachers to address special-needs children is mostly carried out in private “centers” that claim of providing teachers with the appropriate training (not education) with no academic or government supervision to assure appropriate training or education is being delivered.
The support for those children does not stop at the schoolteacher and special education teachers, but extends to cover all other support system and personnel including the program coordinators, special education center directors at the inclusion schools, social, occupation, and speech therapists. The entire chain of supporting personnel does not only lack the appropriate education and training, but also lack the availability of the academic and electronic resources that have proven to significantly improve and speed up the inclusion of those children with their class-mates at later school stages.
It is therefore the objective of the current project to create a new line of schoolteachers who are academically and practically developed to be able to address children with special-needs in an inclusion program and who are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and tools to integrate this category of children with the main stream and make sure they are competent to play a role in the national growth. This shall be achieved by combining the efforts of experts with engineering and education background to work together to establish an international diploma in special education targeting regular- and special education teachers. The diploma aims at upgrading the academic and practical competencies of those teachers to be able to effectively support inclusion programs children in the best professional way. This goes along with the development of electronic/hardware tools and IT-based virtual inclusion environment that shall be designed according to the pedagogical requirements for those children to facilitate academic and mental evolving. These tools shall be developed by the team members with engineering background in collaboration with the education experts.
- Develop comprehensive gap analysis of special education in Egypt for 3 targeted disabilities.
- Design and develop two-year two-stage special education diploma system offered in EG.
- Design and develop professional training modules for specific disability aspects (ADHD, behavioral disorder, inclusion systems).
- Design and develop (pedagogical-psychological, disability-specific) courses for special education diploma with dual education design concept.
- Develop the diploma according to ECTS system to be upgraded later to Master’s degree.
- Accredit the developed diploma both in EG and in EU.
- Develop disability-specific teacher/specialists resources for public or private schools with inclusion program.
- Develop an online virtual inclusion school hosting students (regular and special-needs), teachers and parents as a shared learning environment.
- Establish exchange links between EG and EU and train EG trainers in EU.
- Implement the diploma during the project lifetime.
University of Oviedo.
University of Latvia.
Royal Institute of Technology.
Ain Shams University (ASU).
Nile University (NU).
Egyptian E-Learning University.
Educational Cooperative Society Misr Language Schools.
Ministry of Education.