Inclusion of students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome in public schools
Special Education Directorate

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Kingdom of Bahrain is considered to be one of the first countries in the Arabic region that started to integrate students with different disabilities in schools and society such students with physical disabilities, students with visual disabilities … etc. However, children with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome (7 – 15 years old) where registered in regular classes without being appropriately diagnosed as intellectually disabled, accordingly they were not getting the supports and services they need to learn and develop themselves. Furthermore, they were labeled as "failures". Fundamental problems: - Based on the urgency and the constant demand of a number of parents to integrate children with disabilities mild intellectual disability and down syndrome with students in public schools and because of the lack of schools that offer special services to students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome who has the ability to learn and socialize in the society. - Expecting regular education teachers to teach students who have mild intellectual disabilities without the support they need, as they are not qualified to teach students with disabilities. Teachers are lack of experiences and were not trained to implement educational strategies with students with mild intellectual disabilities. Also putting unreasonable demands on teachers in regular classes. - Serving students with disabilities in age-inappropriate settings by placing older students in primary settings or younger students in secondary and intermediate settings. - Placing students with intellectual disability in regular classes without modifying the environment and considering safety precautions, which expose them to hazards of risk. According to that, the program of integrating students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome was established in 2001 and they were included partially in special classes in public schools.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain acknowledges providing educational services for all groups, and the Education Law provides in Article V, the first paragraph « to provide educational opportunities for the development of each individual aptitudes and abilities and skills to self-actualize and contribute to the development of life and society». So the project was implemented to integrate students with intellectual disabilities and Down syndrome after the Ministerial Decision 180 / T b / 2001 in the academic year 2001/2002 in eight primary schools spread over various regions in the Kingdom, and with the beginning of the academic year 2008/2009 the ministry started implementing the program in intermediate schools, and continued to expand in its application in primary and intermediate schools, bringing the total percentage of schools from both elementary and intermediate school levels in 2014/2015 to 27% of total public schools in Bahrain. Accordingly, students who were identified and diagnosed with mild intellectual disability were integrated in public schools in special classes with the provision of supports and services needed for successful and meaningful participation rather than dumping them in regular classes and limiting their opportunities in learning. Objectives of the program: - Providing appropriate educational opportunities to learn where different classroom activities are working to increase the real learning opportunities for students who are benefiting from the program. - Teach students who are benefiting from the program principles of reading, writing and calculus in the range of their mental capabilities. - Create a realistic environment in which students are exposed to a variety of different experiences and influences that will enable them to configure the correct realistic concepts and about the world in which they live. - Develop students' speech and language and increase their vocabulary as well as helping them to express themselves and communicate with others in everyday situations. - Teach the students acceptable social behavior in the personal care and self-reliance in the care and protection of themselves and take some simple social responsibilities, such as transfer, entertainment and use of the local currency and others. - Encouraging friendships and social relationships between students with disabilities and regular students in schools by establishing "friends of disabled students committee" in most of the schools that are implementing the program.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
- Kingdome of Bahrain is the first country in the Gulf who implemented the program of inclusion for students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome in public schools. - All classes are provided with needed teaching aids and assistive technology techniques to meet the students' needs, for example videos, computers, data show, smart board, educational stories, etc… - Provision of qualified teachers (every 5 students have 1 teacher) who have Bachelor's degree or high diploma in special education to deal with this category. As well as ongoing courses and workshop in special education field are given. - All teachers are supervised by special education specialists from the SED who visit the schools regularly to ensure that appropriate educational strategies are implemented. - Providing supportive services such as behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy for students if needed according to the teachers' assessments. - Teachers present information in varied ways, for example, orally, visually, through demonstration, part to whole and whole to part. Instructional approaches invite attention to individual needs, for example, learning contracts, entry points and problem-based learning. - An individual Education Plan (IEP) is designed to meet the unique educational needs of each student in order to reach educational goals as it describes how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning, and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Identification process: At the beginning of the program, in order to identify the beneficiary students, the SED cooperated with head of schools, learning disabilities teachers, and parents who were concerning about their children situation and poor academic performance, in the identification process according to the achievement tests, assessment of language skills, assessment of social skills and all student data. Referral and Assessment: Students were referred to psychiatry hospital to be diagnosed according to standardized test (Standford-Binet intelleigence scale) to distinguish mild intellectual disability from learning disability or emotional/behavioral disorders. Children with mild intellectual disability scored (IQ 50–69) and who are capable of learning reading and mathematics skills to approximately the level of a typical child aged nine to twelve. They can learn self-care and practical skills, such as cooking or using the local mass transit system. As individuals with intellectual disability reach adulthood, many learn to live independently and maintain gainful employment. Thus, this category were chosen to benefit from the program. Curriculum: The SED cooperated with the curriculum directorate to form a working committee that consisted of a variety of experiences to discuss the program and go through the experinces of inclusion in other regions to develop a curriculum, which meets students' needs. The implementation of the program: - The students are integrated in public schools in private classes, and each class includes (10) students maximum and (2) special needs teacher, however students are integrated with other regular students in activities lessons such as music, sports .. etc. - At the beginning of the academic year, teachers assess the students individually and determine strengths and weaknesses in the cognitive skills, academic skills and activities of daily living skills. - Determine long and short-term goals for each student. - Determine the supportive services that might be needed for each student. - Suggest the evaluation method and set the time for evaluation. - Create activities and modify the curriculum in a way that suits the students' abilities and meet their needs. - Integrate students who achieved their goals and developed their skills in regular classes with other students and supervise them regularly. - Organizing visits between teachers to share their experiences and develop the process of learning and teaching. - Transfer students to psychologists for further diagnosis if needed. - Participation in all events and activities that take place in schools with other students. Academic plan: The academic plan consists of the following subjects: Islamic education, Arabic, English, science, mathematics, cultural studies, sports … etc. The students attend (25) lessons per week, (5) lessons a day, including the rehabilitation plan for the students who are in inclusion classes in intermediate schools.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
form a working committee that consisted of a variety of experiences to base a curriculum that meets the students' abilities and needs. - Directorate of services: provision of assistant worker in schools that implementing the program to assist students in using toilets, eating … etc. - Directorate of information technology: provision of computers, data show, smart board … etc. - Directorate of social rehabilitation in ministry of social development: referral of students who are over the age of 15 years old to rehabilitation centers. - Directorate of human resources: employment of qualified teachers every academic year. - Arabian Gulf University: conducting courses and workshops to train teachers.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The budget under all the heads shown below were allocated under the MOE budget. Financial Resources: In the start of every academic year, 500 BD is transferred to each school implementing the program and the special education teachers have the responsibility to plan the their expenses of the budgets according to the students' needs. Human Resources The total number of qualified special education teachers for students with mild intellectual disability are (129) (1 teacher to 5 students) and (53) assistant workers. Technical Resources - In the cooperation of all concerned directorates of the ministry of education, the classes are supplied with all the needs for example, computers, data show, smart board, tables with U shape for group work, teaching aids, furniture, … etc. - The inclusion classrooms are decorated in a way that does not create distraction and sensory overload.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
- Developed the academic level of the integrated students as some of them have been integrated in regular classes according to the teachers' assessments, as some of the students reach their academic goals in certain subjects. - Assuring that all schools and grades-level placements are age-appropriate rather than serving students with disabilities in age-inappropriate setting by placing older students in primary settings or younger students in secondary settings. - Transfer students who are over 15 years old in intermediate schools to the rehabilitation center in collaboration with social development ministry. - Inclusion contributes in preparing students to engage in social life and find opportunities to engage and participate with others in the community and therefore find better chances for employment. Also teaching the students and developing their academic level will increase their chances in finding suitable jobs with better income. - The negative effects of labeling and lack of familiarity are decreased as they will be - Young and school age children have opportunities to learn from and share experiences with each other. This includes positive models for learning, communication and behaviors. - Encouraging and implementing activities that promote the development of relationships with others and social skills Allowed students who are not able to fully participate in social life and schools with others to partially participate, rather than excluded entirely.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
- All teachers are supervised by special education specialists from the SED who visit the schools regularly to ensure that appropriate educational strategies are implemented. Moreover, head of schools are responsible of supervising teachers by attending the inclusion classes. - SED requesting annual reports of the program, visits reports, and reports about the students' level. Also the IEP for every students are followed up by supervisors in collaboration with the parents and head of schools is some cases. - Ongoing assessments are being conducted to assess the students according to the short and long-term goals to find their weaknesses and strengths. - Regular meetings are taking place between parents, teachers and presenters from SED if needed to monitor the progress of students and modify the IEP if any problems occur.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
- Absence of appropriate diagnosis center to work in relation with SED to identify the students by implementing scales and measurements. And in order to solve this problem, the SED cooperate with school health center in assessing the students to put them in suitable place and this causes delay in the diagnosis process. Also they lack of standardized psychological scales that can be used for diagnostic purposes, including measures of intelligence, learning difficulties and developmental academy. However, the SED is seeking an approval to work in collaboration with ministry of social development regarding the referral of students to Abdulla Bin Ali Kanoo center that is specialized in the diagnosis and evaluation of disabilities, and therefore the students will be assessed appropriately by professional who work in a team to have an accurate diagnosis. - At the beginning of implementing the program in public schools, parents of regular students did not accept the idea of integrating students with mild mental disability with their children, due to the lack of knowledge about disability. Thus the SED conducted awareness workshops and produced brochures about mild intellectual disability and down syndrome and how inclusion can benefit regular students socially through the increased personal growth, appreciation and acceptance of other children, feelings of accomplishments as they provide assistance to others, and improved understanding of disability-related issues. - Absence of database of teachers, students and program that should be linked between schools and SED, as it is necessary to have a database system that should contain all the information needed regarding the students' details, reports, … etc. At present, the SED is seeking to solve this problem in collaboration with the directorate of information technology. - Absence of a designed curriculum that suits the differences in the students' abilities and meet their needs. At present, according to the increased number of inclusion classes and students, the SED Seeks to provide a new curriculum in collaboration with the integrated curricula for education services and special needs services company in Kuwait.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1- Students with mild mental disability and down syndrome: Academic benefits: Educated in the least restrictive environment, and having an IEP that addresses that students needs with an individualized support from specialists who find and develop the students' strengths/interests to make great academic gains. social benefits: Develop self-acceptance by learning with peers and developing friendships. Learning appropriate social and self-care skills. Behavioral benefits: Reduces stress, learn appropriate social and learning behaviors, reduces frustration and negative aspects of labeling, and teaches the students that he is "more" than his disability. 2- General education students: There are many advantages of inclusion for those students in an inclusion classroom who do not have disabilities as well. These students can also gain strong friendships that would have been impossible otherwise, as well as appreciation and acceptance for people who are different from them. The idea of “diversity,” rather than remaining an empty catchword, takes shape tangibly in the inclusion classroom. Non-disabled students learn how to work with students who have varying skills and abilities, which will help them in their futures. 3- Family: The family of the students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome benefits by being integrated more easily into the school’s society. This is especially true when the student is an only child whose parents may be unable to “fit in” to the community unless the student is placed in an inclusion setting.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
- Transfer the integrated students who are over 12 years old from inclusion classes in primary schools to inclusion classes in intermediate schools, after taking the parents approval and conducting meetings between teachers in both school to discuss the IEP and continue working to achieve the goals. - Orienting students with intellectual disabilities and Down syndrome for the labor market by depending on themselves as they are being referred to ministry of social development to join rehabilitation centers and gain skills needed to find appropriate job with good income. - As a result of the increasing number of students joining the program, the SED are opening at least 3 inclusion classes every academic year. - Continuous employment of qualified special education teachers to cover the program, as well as providing continuous training programs and workshops in Bahrain and abroad.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Importance of accurate diagnosis of mild intellectual disabilities and Down syndrome to be able to provide effective services in education, pre-rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation, and to participate with all parties concerned with disabilities. The Ministry of Education is responsible for providing Education services as well as pre-rehabilitation services and the Ministry of Social Development is responsible for providing rehabilitation associated with the labor market and the process of operating according to students' abilities. There should be a cooperation between ministry of health and ministry of education in the identification process of students with mild intellectual disability and down syndrome, as they should provide the SED with statistics of the disabled children regularly. Therefore, development of all the parties concerned with disabilities are crucial and aspire to reach the highest level of integration.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Special Education Directorate
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood
Title:   Head of Special Education Directorate  
Telephone/ Fax:   00973 39675165
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
City:   Isa town

          Go Back

Print friendly Page