Manama : The Kingdom of Bahrain boasts a distinguished experience in delivering adequate educational services to students with special needs, especially at government schools, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution which guarantees education for all groups, the Ministry of Education said.
The Education Law also stipulates that educational opportunities shall be provided for all individuals to pave the way for them to develop their capabilities and skills so as to be able to improve their lives and serve their society, the Ministry added in a statement marking the International Day of Disabled Persons, which is observed every December 3.
The Ministry of Education indicated that it is keen to continue providing educational services according to special programmes for students with disabilities, by specialised teachers for various groups, including the programme for integrating students with mild intellectual disabilities and Down Syndrome, which was launched in the 2001/2002 academic year.
The programme targets children who are capable of learning from the aforementioned category, whose IQ ranges between 50 and 70 according to the intelligence test. They are taught academic subjects in their own classes in government schools and are integrated with their peers in some classes such as sports, music, drawing, design and technology, and computers.
The Ministry added that children with mild intellectual disability and Down Syndrome benefit from the comprehensive early childhood development programme (Portage), in addition to a rehabilitative educational curriculum that develops their basic skills in the pedagogical, teaching and rehabilitation fields, as well as helps them reach the maximum degree of interaction and participation within the school, family and external communities, in addition to involving them in an agricultural project.
Regarding students with physical disabilities, the Education Ministry said that it provides academic guidance and psychological counseling services to those with motor disabilities to help them adapt to the environment in which they live, adding that it began integrating this category into its schools in 1979.
Concerning blind students and other visually impaired ones, the Ministry indicated that it delivers the necessary services to them, such as supportive devices and aids (Perkins machine, Printo, computer equipped with a speaking programme), provides schools with bulletin boards for blind students, and creates ground paths for those students in their schools, in order to create a healthy and educational environment that stimulates learning, in addition to providing them with educational materials, such as printing books in large and bold fonts, as well as placing them in special classrooms during exams.
The Education Ministry also stated that it is interested in integrating students with hearing disabilities, those who have had cochlear implants, and those with mild and moderate hearing loss at all educational levels, noting that this category receives support services, including supporting devices and aids (digital headsets), placing them in special classrooms during exams, and converting the listening text into a reading text.
In addition, a speech and language programme has been implemented since the academic year 2011-2012, the Ministry added, noting that speech and language teachers have been appointed at government schools with students suffering from articulation and speech disorders.
On the other hand, the Ministry indicated that it had started integrating autistic students into schools since the 2010/2011 academic year, adding that the programme is being expanded.
Students with autism spectrum disorder are taught in their own classes in government schools, but are integrated with their regular peers in some classes such as sports, music, drawing, design, technology and computers, the Ministry said.
The Ministry of Education pointed out that the integration programme for students with autism disorder provides the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programme, which prepares them for the total integration process and treats their behavioural problems, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), which aims to help the studenst initiate social communication, and the (TEACCH) programme, which organises the classroom environment and uses pictorial schedules in order to organise time for various activities, in addition to Portage programme.
Students with autism are also involved in agricultural projects at schools to provide them with more integration opportunities, the Education Ministry added.