The IDEAL Program, implemented by SKILD Center and NDU, is also a two-year university program that leads to a certificate, under the supervision of LIPSCOMB university. It is intended to enable students with intellectual and/or developmental challenges in Lebanon and the Arab region, who reached postsecondary education, to achieve the following:
- Develop life and social skills of students with special needs.
- Develop their academic and professional abilities.
- Prepare them for the life of responsible productive citizens.
Students who enrol in the program will register and become NDU students. SKILD Center will be responsible for equipping them with, and developing, abilities directly related to their intellectual and/or developmental needs, based on the reports and IEP that each student submits with the application, as well as continuous evaluation and assessment at the NDU-SKILD Center.
At the same time, every student who joins the program is expected to audit courses offered by the different faculties and departments at NDU and which address their skills in arts, sports, etc. Auditing classes with students in the undergraduate levels at the university is key when it comes to students’ social and life skills.
Students in the IDEAL program are also given the possibility to enhance their life and social skills through the peer assistance they will be receiving throughout their journey at the university by graduate and undergraduate students. Every student who joins the program will be assigned a volunteer from the wider pool of students at the university who are not in the IDEAL program; their role will be to accompany their peers with special needs to live a real university life, to grow at the various levels, to achieve at the level learning. They play a key role in maintaining NDU as one of the very few campuses in the region that are closest to offering real inclusion in a university setting.
- Objective 1: Students will reach measurable academic milestones aligned with their skills and interests.
- Objective 2: Students will develop life and social skills necessary for their professional and personal lives.
- Objective 3: Students will enhance their career skills for employment.
IDEAL Program is designed to work simultaneously on developing academic skills, life and social skills, as well as career related abilities.
Enhancing students’ skills at the academic level will be secured through:
- Auditing one NDU undergraduate course per semester that are in harmony with their interests and useful for the career path they plan to join. Courses can be in the areas of art, music, information technology, nutrition, physical education, English writing (freshman level), or religion.
- Taking part in 3 specialized courses per semester in the IDEAL program.
Social and Life Skills
To make progress at these two levels, the program entails the following:
- Offering students enrolled in the program courses that help them enhance and/or develop their ability to carry on independently in social settings and various settings in their life.
- Requiring that the student takes three courses per semester in the fields of technology, monitoring income and expenditure, cooking, hygiene, social skills, safety, self-advocacy, self-awareness, among others.
- Encouraging students to:
- Monitor progress, make choices about classes and activities on campus.
- Interact with faculty and staff regarding their needs.
- Join clubs and teams on campus.
By way of preparing the students to join the private of public sector for the purpose of developing a career and consequently proving himself or herself as an independent responsible and productive citizen, the program introduces and provides training in the following:
- Exploring one’s career interests
- Writing a résumé
- Researching, applying for, preparing for and interview
- Maintaining a challenging and/or competitive job
- Advocating for one’s needs in the workplace
- Requesting help and interacting with co-workers
- Time and money management.
In addition, the program will give great attention to the issue of internship. Each student in the program will be placed in internship programs once they know their career goals (with the help of the program advisor). By the time s/he obtains the certificate from the program, the student will have completed:
- 2 on campus internships during the first year (one per semester)
- 2 internships off campus during the second year.
This approach will enable the student to learn and practice the skills that s/he will be beneficial for him or her in the workplace.
Joining the NDU-SKILD IDEAL Program
The NDU-SKILD IDEAL Program is an opportunity for children who completed elementary and intermediate school levels (until Grade 9), or who finished secondary school.
To be admitted to the program, a student with intellectual and/or developmental challenges needs to:
- Be between 17 and 26 years old.
- Have attended school until at least Grade 9 (included)
- Demonstrate mastery of at least basic literacy skills.
- Demonstrate that s/he is fluent in English language.
- Demonstrate a desire to join the program by submitting a video-taped, or written personal statement including information about the candidate (family, friends, hobbies,..), why would the candidate want to come to college, and their dreams of the future.
- Provide evidence that s/he:
- cannot attend the university non-special programs due to mild to moderate level of intellectual or developmental challenges.
- can attend course sessions that last between 50 and 75 minutes.
- can function independently, or with little or no help – for 2 hours.
- can accept and follow reasonable rules.
Applying for the NDU-SKILD IDEAL Program
Acceptance to join the NDU-SKILD IDEAL Program is best secured by going item by item through the following checklist, whereby a student’s application file needs to include:
- The application form
- Two letters of recommendation from non-relatives who have known the candidate for at least 6 months
- A copy of a recent complete psycho-educational assessment
- Documentation of the history of their condition (previous assessments)
- Individualized Educational Program (IEP) from the last year of high school
- Progress reports from the last year of high school
- Transcripts from all high school and postsecondary education institutions
- A nonrefundable registration fee of 100 000 L.L.