Inclusive Education Gets Started In Egypt
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 30, 2003
CAIRO, EGYPT--In 1997, Naguib Khouzam was introduced to the idea of inclusive education while attending a teacher's conference in Paris. Since that time, Khouzam's program, known as SETI (Support Education Training for Integration), has been working on getting children with disabilities enrolled in public schools across Egypt.
This year 64 children with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities are attending primary school classes. That may seem like a small beginning, considering that there are an estimated 900,000 others who currently are not in any school. But advocates for inclusion point out that most Egyptians see disabilities as "curses from God" and fear that disabilities can be passed from one person to another like a virus.
Egyptians with disabilities are often hidden at home with no expectation that they will participate in society. For this reason, the country lacks general accessibility standards. For example, streets in Egypt have no curb cuts for wheelchairs.
SETI officials hope to change these attitudes, one classroom at a time.
"Children are easier to accept than adults," Samia Sami Aziz, head of training for SETI, told the Associated Press. "To learn to accept people with differences, we have to start with children. In the long run, society will be a different society."