This year marked the 10th anniversary of the National Day for Students with Learning Difficulties, an occasion equivalent to an honorary medal for the journey of advocating for inclusion of these children in the educational, social, and economic sector. During these ten years, we have achieved a lot with partners in the field, namely the launching of 30 inclusive public schools, establishing special education departments and supporting more than ten private schools, in addition to hundreds of educators trained on special education and differentiated instructions. However, as children with learning difficulties were graduating from schools, the next natural frontier was to accompany them to higher education and establish, in partnership with the Notre Dame University, the IDEAL Program. IDEAL Program is a two-year certificate program for youth with special needs providing them with a post-secondary education opportunity where they can develop their academic, career, and life skills all while enjoying an inclusive campus life.
To celebrate this milestone, SKILD came together with NDU to host a dinner in the presence of Dr. Abbas El Halabi, Minister of Education and Higher Education, amongst activists and specialists in the field.
In his speech, Dr. Nabil Costa, Founder and CEO of SKILD Center, called for the establishment of a national committee for individuals with special needs where the efforts of the ministries of health, education, and social affairs along with the private sector would unite to form one comprehensive and common focal point for all diagnosis and individualized educational plans.
Father Bchara Khoury, NDU President, along the lines of Dr. Costa’s wishes, emphasized the willingness of NDU to work alongside the civil society and SKILD Center to merge the higher education curriculum with that of IDEAL and called on the minister of labor along with the concerned experts in several specializations to construct a specially formulated curriculum that guarantees the inclusion of the special needs people during their school, pre-university, and university levels. Promoting the independence of students and individuals with special needs was the key highlight of the word of Dr. El Halabi as he foresaw that their inclusion in higher education should only be a goal for their integration in inclusive job markets.
IDEAL students themselves were present at the event as they greeted guests, told them about their experiences in the program, and supported in all of the preparations.