This year’s National Day for Students with Learning Differences was celebrated in a special way at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE). In a joint press conference, the Minister of Education and Higher Education Mr. Akram Shehayeb, in the presence of the Director General of MEHE Mr. Fadi Yarak, and the President of the Center for Educational Research and Development Dr. Nada Oueijan, emphasized that learners with difficulties have the right to education in an inclusive school environment. Mr. Shehayeb also noted that individuals with learning difficulties constitute the majority of people with iron will which is why we should strengthen their will power starting from parents and the school environment to reaching the overall culture at a later stage.
Dr. Nabil Costa, proposed several developmental suggestions that would serve to improve the situation of individuals with special needs in Lebanon starting with calling them individuals with challenges. In a WHO report in 2011 on special needs, experts stated that a disability is part of the journey of every individual in life. All people will face short term and long-term challenges at one point in their lives.
Lebanese law 220/2000 denotes the establishment of a national committee for disability. Dr. Costa suggested the name changes to the national committee for individuals with special needs and be independent of any ministerial agendas while coordinating with all concerned ministries such as the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and of course the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. This committee will serve to be the focal point or umbrella under which individuals with difficulties will be categorized based on a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment done by accredited experts. From here, each respective ministry will take care of the individuals with difficulties classified as such: The Ministry of Social Affairs to be responsible for individuals with physical difficulties, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs to be responsible for individuals with neurodevelopmental difficulties, and the Ministry of Public Health to be responsible for individuals with mental disorders.
It is important to note that law 220 gives the right of employment for individuals with challenges!