Discover PUE event sees experts highlight need for accessible curriculums, training, and a sustainable approach to ensuring every child can learn
A “community commitment” to inclusive education, combating stigmas that surround disabilities, and designing courses that are accessible to all students are the keys to ensuring no child in Qatar faces obstacles to learning, Qatar Foundation educators have said
Students with special educational needs have an equal right to access, and this requires a countywide focus on raising awareness of, and understanding, these needs
Speaking a virtual event that allowed parents considering where to enroll their children to explore the diverse range of schools and specialized centers under Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education (PUE), experts emphasized the importance of inclusive, accessible education – and how Qatar can build and grow systems that mean every young learner is catered for.
Inclusivity and accessibility are cornerstones of QF’s education ecosystem, and the Discover PUE event, which featured a series of webinars with educators, saw Matthew Campion, Principal at Renad Academy – a specialized QF school supporting children with Autism – say: “Students with special educational needs have an equal right to access, and this requires a countywide focus on raising awareness of, and understanding, these needs.
“To achieve this, specialist support and training is required for families and the wider community to ensure young people – at home, at school, or anywhere – meet no barriers in accessing education, healthcare, and their social needs. And in education, it is vital that all students can access a full and meaningful curriculum that enables them to be challenged, to flourish, and to achieve.
“It’s also vital to design courses that can be accessed at an appropriate level by all students, as well as ensuring courses that train adults to work in the field of special educational needs are available.”
Dr. Tracy Hardister, Director of The Learning Center – part of PUE – explained that systems to support inclusion must be sustainable, saying: “Once we begin to develop and implement inclusive practices and focus on accessibility, we have to consider – as a community and a country – how we are going to sustain and continue to grow these systems
As QF, and as a nation, we have to prioritize inclusion in education settings, in the workforce, and socially
“The first component of this is community commitment. As QF, and as a nation, we have to prioritize inclusion in education settings, in the workforce, and socially. This involves collaboration and advocacy across sectors – from education and the medical sector to social services and the parent community.
“We also have to look at how we continue to develop, grow, and recruit highly-trained, highly-qualified experts who are special educators and specialists in areas such as occupational therapy, speech and language, and psychology. And not only do we have to recruit and develop them, we should really look at how we develop training programs at university level, so Qatar has its own internal training opportunities.
“Individuals with disabilities the world over face stigma, so education and awareness across sectors – policymakers, educators, parents, the community at large – is a must.”
Discover PUE sessions also focused on topics such as dual language learning, STEM education, and progressive schools, while a webinar on Parents as Partners saw Yara Al Darwish, School Community Engagement Specialist within PUE’s Academic Affairs department, say: “Parental involvement is more than the physical element of going to school and attending events – it recognizes that parents are an essential part of the learning process.
Parental engagement is key for student success, and the aspiration of raising achievement can only be fulfilled if parents are involved in schools and engaged in learning
“Parental engagement is key for student success, and the aspiration of raising achievement can only be fulfilled if parents are involved in schools and engaged in learning.”
Al Darwish explained that parents should choose schools that meet their needs as well as those of their child, saying: “Schools aren’t a one-size-fits-all – at QF, our schools are not identical, and we don’t look to make them so.
“Our ecosystem comprises diverse schools, each of which is unique, and the beauty of this is that parents essentially have the power of choice. We have many options under our umbrella that parents can choose from, and it may be based on whether their child has specific learning needs, or is identified as gifted, or whether the schools environment aligns with their values as a family. Ultimately, nobody can make that decision other than the parent.”
And in a session on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program – taught in QF schools – Ghada Haddad, Head of IB Training within PUE’s Education Development Institute, explained how the program reflects the way schools are changing from “knowing to doing” and from being “teacher-centered to student-centered”.
“When a student passes through an IB education, they will be an enquirer, a thinker, a risk-taker, a communicator in more than one language, and a person who cares for others and the environment,” she said. “They will be principled, reflective, open-minded, and know how to balance their development – physical, social, emotional, and cognitive – and their life.
“Education is now about students constructing the meaning of everything around them, not just taking and consuming information. We want them to construct understanding themselves, to choose what is relevant and meaningful to them and what is not. We want to nurture learners who are both local and global citizens – and an IB graduate has that profile.”
The admission process for QF schools is now open, and more information about these schools – including a dedicated Admissions section – can be found at www.qf.org.qa/education/pre-university. If you have a query about the admission process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.