- ADEK’s education initiative is part of the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination 2020-2024
- The initiative includes an inclusive education model, implementation of effective transition processes and development of alternative curriculum pathways across all phases
ADEK’s announcement of its initiative and programs coincides with the United Nations ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)’, marked 3 December 2020, which promotes a better understanding of disability issues and fosters support for the dignity, rights and well-being of People of Determination, while integrating them in all sectors.
ADEK’s Students of Determination initiative aims to foster an inclusive and enabling community as part of the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination 2020-2024, which is led by the Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi (DCD).
The comprehensive long-term strategy is comprised of 30 strategic public and private sector initiatives designed to ensure an improvement in the quality of life for People of Determination, while providing opportunities that support their contribution across all aspects of society.
H.E. Sara Musallam, ADEK’s Chairman, praised Abu Dhabi government’s determination to secure the right to quality education for all students in Abu Dhabi and highlighted the value of collaboration under Abu Dhabi’s POD Strategy.
“Inclusivity is a core principle embracing the idea that everyone has something valuable to contribute and that every Student of Determination has access to the same opportunities to learn, play and live. When all children learn together, it promotes unconditional acceptance and tolerance, which is what the UAE stands for.
“Inclusivity has always been a key priority on our agenda, which aims to create a holistic ecosystem that supports Students of Determination throughout their learning journey. With the integration of all pillars in the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination led by DCD, we along with our partners are consolidating our efforts to amplify positive and holistic outcomes to empower our children to reach their full potential from birth,” said Her Excellency.
H.E Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of Community Development Sector at DCD, stated: “DCD works hand in hand with ADEK to implement the initiative of the “Inclusive Education Model in Abu Dhabi” to enable POD with their wide range of needs and abilities to have equitable access to education anchoring on the principle of the right of POD to access quality education.”
H.E Al Mulla added: “Through this initiative, we aim to ensure an inclusive educational environment at the school-wide system with a focus on capacity-building for educational staff and a system to support families in navigating the inclusion journey. In this context, we see the critical importance of coordinating and integrating the efforts across the health and rehabilitation, educational and social sectors to achieve the objectives of this initiative.”
In the past year, ADEK’s Students of Determination office has received and responded to hundreds of requests for student assessments. For many, this has led to specialized educational placements for Students of Determination allowing them to embark upon personalized educational journeys based on their unique needs.
Additionally, and as part of the strategy implementation, ADEK is leading an education taskforce featuring representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations. The taskforce includes two Students of Determination, Zayed Al Nuaimi and Omar Salah Al Marzooqi. The duo’s personal experiences and student perspectives will help shape policy and system changes developed by the wider taskforce.
Speaking about their roles on the committee, Al Marzooqi said: “I aim to represent the demographic of the physically disabled category of People of Determination within the UAE, and hope to voice their opinions regarding current policies.” Al Nuaimi added: “I’m determined to contribute to inclusivity.”
Shedding light on both students and their roles, Rubi Mahmood, Student of Determination Office Director at ADEK said: “Zayed and Omar represent the voices of Students of Determination in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and we need to constantly incorporate the voice of students of determination and their families into our projects and policies. Our goal is to ensure education for all and offer opportunities to Students of Determination that enable them to become empowered members of our society. Partnering with DCD on such a comprehensive inclusion strategy represents the commitment of our leadership to full inclusion.
We are constantly exploring ways to tailor our support and deliver inclusive education. We strive to foster deeper relationships with communities and businesses to develop our students’ skill sets, celebrate their achievements, and facilitate their progression from education to employment.”
To evaluate the current inclusion landscape based on informed data, ADEK has conducted a number of visits to schools across Abu Dhabi and interviewed inclusion professionals working at these schools. Collaboration with professionals is key to the ongoing improvement in educational provision for all Students of Determination.
Furthermore, as part of the diversified approach to support the strategy, ADEK has partnered with a number of organizations on initiatives designed to encourage inclusion in schools. Notably, the Student of Determination office celebrated along with the Special Olympics Organization the awarding of the ‘Unified Champion Schools’ status to six Abu Dhabi schools.
In addition to the efforts to promote Inclusion exerted by ADEK’s Student of Determination Office, a series of webinars have been organized for the first time to raise awareness about the unified People of Determination classifications. A total of ten sessions are organized for all Charter and Private School education staff, as well as nurseries and the Higher Education sector across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.