A girl with visual disability votes in the 2018 presidential election- Egypt Today/Mahmoud Maqboul
CAIRO – 29 August 2018: A number of parents are asking the Minister of Education, Tarek Shawki, to establish a school or classroom for students with special needs in each residential area, said the founder of Egyptian Mothers Union for the Advancement of Education, Abeer Ahmed.
“Considering that we are in the process of developing education, that we are in the framework of encouraging the country to focus on education and that the president said the year of 2019 will be for those with special needs too, we are calling for the establishment of a school or class for the blind in each residential area that teaches the Braille method with trained teachers and a curriculum for the blind that would help them learn and live in society like everyone else,” said Ahmed in the statement.
They added that “it is inconceivable that there are only four schools in Cairo in El-Nozha, Nasr City, Zeitoun and Madinet El Salam. It is unreasonable that a city as big as Helwan doesn’t have a school or class for the blind.”
The parents appealed to the president and to the Minister of Education in that their sufferings and difficulty with the roads, in terms of distance, would come to an end if schools or classes for the blind are established in every location.
“In Maadi, there isn’t a single school or class with these specifications and the distance from Maadi to Masr El Gedida, the nearest school, is too far, aside from bearing these financial costs too,” said the parents.
Living in Egypt, one would understand that the traffic is often hectic and the distances from one area to another can often be problematic. That’s not to say transport, food and school supplies too can be a burden on parents. Hence, the convenience of having a school or classroom for the blind in every area would solve a lot of daily problems.
Despite the year of 2019 being the year of education so that the country can focus on the development of its youth, it is not known yet whether Egypt is financially capable of providing this particular request by the parents, with respect to the budget and the availability of trained teachers.
Between pioneering major changes to the Thanaweya Amma program and introducing tech-based learning, there are definitely developments being planned for students in Egypt, yet students with disabilities may not be able to benefit from developments if they do not have learning environments set up for them with qualified teachers too. However, this is not to say that Egypt is avoiding the issue at hand.
The Egypt Information and Communication Technology Trust Fund (ICT-TF) interestingly has e-learning programs for the hearing and visually impaired students in Egypt, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Islamic Development Bank.
According to their website, “The online interactive courses along with dedicated portal/website will provide ICT exposure and access opportunities to thousands of impaired/disabled students encouraging them to become actively involved in the society and pursuing life-long careers, thus reducing the burden on the government and positively contributing.”
Although the educational program has a major focus on Math, Science and IT, it is still a way for hearing and visually impaired students in Egypt to get involved in tech-based education.
Additionally, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued law no. 10 for year 2018 on the rights of persons with disabilities on Feb. 20, after being approved by the Parliament. The new law includes rules on the right to education, learning, work recreation and also discusses that the country has an obligation to create all facilities in the country for the disabled.
There are colleges and other educational institutions prepared to receive people with disabilities, as it is a part of education to have the visually disabled integrate into universities.
There are directions for the heads of universities to exempt students with disabilities from tuition expenses, as well as expenses of accommodation at the university cities through the use of resources of social solidarity fund; adding that that he is working to establish the Department of care for students with special needs, as happened at Mansoura University, the minister mentioned.
For his part, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Khosht, president of Cairo University, stressed that the university and its departments are doing their best to facilitate the education process for students with disabilities, adding that the new law for the disabled approved their admission into university cities, and they will account for 10 percent of the total students in the coming years.
As Egypt sets out to work on educational development, there are hopefully plans to accommodate those with special needs.
However, in terms of being able to fund a school or classroom in every area, it would logistically not happen overnight with respect to finding trained teachers, locations, setting up equipment and all the basics of creating a suitable environment.
On the other hand, as a long term project, in order for Egypt to become a pioneer in education, this could be an important project that the Ministry of Education would want to look into so that all of Egypt’s youth are given an equal chance to education in places that can accommodate everyone.