Provisions for people of determination
The term special education describes the programmes and services designed for people of determination (people with special needs) in order to ensure that all students can reach their full potential.
The term 'special educational needs' is used to describe the educational needs of any one with a disability, disorder, difficulty, impairment, exceptionality or any other factor that may affect a student's access to learning and educational performance.
The government of the UAE strongly supports education and learning services for people of determination. In November 2006, the UAE signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol.
Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, is the first law in the UAE to protect the rights of people of determination. Article 12 of the law provides: the country guarantees people with special needs equal opportunities in education within all educational, vocational training, adult education and continuing education institutions in regular classes or special classes with the availability of curriculum in sign language or Braille and or any other methods as appropriate.
Ministry of Education's (MoE) strategy is to adapt public schools to facilitate education for people of determination. Accordingly, people of determination are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception. These students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by MoE. This Department promotes the rights of people of determination and ensures that they have access to the same educational opportunities as students in the regular education system.
Education is of the pillars of the 'National Policy for Empowering People of Determination'. The government will provide an integrative education system in public and vocational education and adapt school curricula to cater their needs. It will also provide qualified teachers and specialists, appropriate supportive technologies and learning materials.
Inclusive education for people of determination
The UAE has made tangible efforts to include people of determination in mainstream education. These efforts are reflected in the Ministerial Resolution No. 647 for the year 2020 on the policy of inclusive education (PDF in Arabic, 500 KB), which directs government schools to adapt themselves to cater to the needs of people of determination and provide them with the best education services.
Additionally, the ministry established the People of Determination Department (formerly known as the Special Education Department), in 2008 to protect the rights of students of determination and provide them with equal opportunities as other students. The ministry also provides all supporting services (mentioned below) to students of determination for free in government schools.
The ministry provides specialised teachers with high behavioural skills that enable them to care for people of determination. It also launched several skill training programmes that include clear instructions on dealing with people with visual and hearing impairment. It launched programmes for teachers to identify talents, understand sign language for those with hearing difficulties, and know how to properly deal with language disorders experienced by children.
The ministry has established support centres across the UAE to follow up on the progress of students of determination before and after inclusion within schools. These centres provide different services such as diagnosis of students with disabilities and learning difficulties, providing recommendations, assisting parents in dealing with their child's condition, and advising support services suitable for their children.
Services and facilities for students of determination
The schools are required to provide the following facilities for students of determination:
- wheelchair ramps and elevators, toilets, buses, cars and parking spaces prepared for students with physical disabilities
- special education resource rooms and sensory and comprehensive rooms
- specialised human cadres such as: special education teacher, teacher assistant, escort, sign language interpreter, Braille education specialist, visual impairment specialist, psychologist, speech and language specialist, special education specialist
- assessment and diagnosis of students of determination by a multidisciplinary team
- support services and individual and group treatment and rehabilitation sessions, according to their needs such as speech and language sessions, Braille education sessions, behaviour modification sessions, sign language sessions
- counselling, awareness and guidance sessions for parents of students of determination
- devices and assistive technologies according to their special needs
- workshops and courses for administration staff, teachers, guides, specialists and parents of students.
Note that workshops are conducted for students of both, public and private schools.
In addition, schools must support students of determination by engaging them in all activities of the ministry such as prize awarding, competitions and programmes inside and outside the UAE such as the “Our Ambassadors” program.
View the list of services and facilities provided by government schools to students of determination (Arabic, xlsx, 114 KB).
Below is a list of assistive technologies provided to each category of student of determination according to their needs.
Type of impairment
- Desktop magnifier for reading and writing
- Braille Note
- Classic and regular Perkins Brailler
- Sensory bag to develop the sensory skills of the visually impaired student
Autism and mental impairment
- Talking photo album
- Devices specialised in communication and language skills development
- Comprehensive talking Arabic language skills bag
- Frequency modulation (FM) system in the classrooms
Read the supporting technologies and devices guide (PDF, Arabic, 1.56 MB).
Caring about students of determination during the COVID-19 crisis
The ministry continued to provide support to students of determination during the pandemic of COVID-19 through distance education platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Al-Diwan, etc.). Exams were conducted electronically. A sign language interpreter was provided to the students. Remote assessment, diagnosis and treatment sessions too continued.
Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework
In support of the ‘My community… a city for every one’ initiative and Dubai Disability Strategy 2020 which aims for Dubai to become disability-friendly by 2020, Knowledge and Human Development Authority - KHDA launched the Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework (PDF).
The framework provides valuable information about the standards required in the area of educational practice and offers clear guidance on the actions to be taken to ensure the provision of quality inclusive services for students of determination (disabled or people with special needs).
The framework applies to all education sectors across Dubai. It includes early childhood services, special needs centres and primary, secondary and higher education providers. It also empowers education providers, regulatory authorities and governing bodies in Dubai to closely monitor progress and compliance.
MoE offers several training programmes and facilities targeting children of determination, their parents and kindergarten teachers.
Programmes include guidance for dealing with people with visual and hearing disabilities, talent identification programmes, getting familiar with sign language for the deaf and handling speech and language disorders in kindergarten-going children.
Ministry of Education has set up support centres to follow up and evaluate the progress of people of determination before and after integration in schools. These centres provide various services including individual diagnosis of students with disabilities and learning difficulties, recommendations, helping and supporting parents to deal with the child's situation and directing them to sources with appropriate support services for their child.
National institutes concerned with people of determination can benefit from annual grants and rewards and professional programmes for qualifying experts in the field of special education.
Community Development Authority (CDA) offers tuition assistance in cash up to AED 50,000 per year to low-income earners with children that have disabilities.
For more information, refer to:
Centres for people of determination
There are many government and private organisations, centres and clubs that provide training and rehabilitation to people of determination (people with special needs). Ministry of Community Development is responsible for issuing licences to private organisations and centres working in the field of care, education and training of people of determination. Refer to the services provided by Ministry of Community Development for people of determination.
Key government centres for people of determination
Key government centres include:
- Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination (ZHO)
Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination (ZHO) is an umbrella for all humanitarian bodies, social services, people of determination institutions and any future bodies established in Abu Dhabi for humanitarian goals. Learn more about Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination.
- Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS)
Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) is an independent organisation in the emirate of Sharjah aiming at serving people of determination in the UAE. Under the umbrella of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, SCHS serves annually more than 3,000 people with determination from different nationalities and age groups. Learn more about Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.
The list below includes some schools for people of determination sorted by emirate:
Ras Al Khaimah
This is a list of government and private centres for people of determination in the UAE. (Available only in Arabic language.)