Pandemic puts spotlight on special needs education in Saudi Arabia

SourceArab News
CountrySaudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Almost a year has passed since more than 6 million students in Saudi Arabia were sent home from school at the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The shift to distance learning has been difficult for all children worldwide; however, it posed particular challenges for children with special needs, their families and their teachers. According to the Saudi Education Ministry's numbers in 2019, there are more than 76, 000 special needs students in the Kingdom. These students are eligible for special education services designed to help them succeed in school.

However, those services are not always easily transferred to distance learning or even in-person learning with social distancing. "While the pandemic has definitely had an impact on everyone, face-to-face learning or direct therapeutic services are very important for special needs and disabled children," Dr. Faisal Al-Nemary, chief operating officer at the Autism Center of Excellence (ACE), told Arab News. Despite the challenges, the sudden shift to more...