Linked with the presentation ashoka.
Linked also with our presentation of the Baby Academy she works also for.
Linked also with her text Working Mothers – The Balancing Act.
Dina Abdel-Wahab is pioneering the integration of special needs children with “normal” children in schools, a first important step toward achieving society-wide integration in Egypt. She recognizes that the early preschool years offer an especially promising opportunity to change attitudes, pave the way for broader societal reform, and set a different expectation of normalcy early in life.
Dina Abdel Wahab – Egypt
At least two million Egyptians are disabled or have special needs as a result of genetic or neurological problems, and half of these are children. Only about one percent of children and adults with special needs receive services from the government and citizen sector organizations.
Rather than focusing narrowly on special needs, Abdel- Wahab focuses broadly on excellence in learning for all children. This produces schools that attract parents of “normal” students because the quality of education for all children is excellent. Children learn and play together in a stimulating environment, developing friendships with classmates who may have autism or a severe learning disability. The adults—teachers and parents—also learn to see special needs in a far more tolerant light.
Abdel-Wahab plans to spread her idea to a regional network of preschools throughout the Middle East and, with the help of parents and supporters, to influence public policy and opinion through advocacy and education. She is establishing an association that raises awareness, addresses policy issues such as changing the law that blocks school-based inclusion, and provides advanced and continuous training to teachers.
Abdel-Wahab operates a preschool in Cairo and within five years she plans to further consolidate and spread her idea by opening three more schools in Egypt and one in another Arab country. She will raise funds from private business and by having some parents as shareholders. Within fi ve years, she expects to ensure that at least one percent of all children with special needs are integrated into schools and at least ten percent of Egypt’s teachers know how to work in an integrated classroom.
Abdel-Wahab is the mother of a five-year-old with Down’s syndrome. She and her son had to travel to France and to the United States for tests and development skills assessments. During this period, she learned of practices, treatments, and educational opportunities available in other settings to children with Down’s syndrome. She draws parents into an informal support group that extends to parents of children who don’t attend her school. Poised, articulate, and determined, Abdel-Wahab is a powerful role model. (Read more on this ashoka-page).
A Cairo native, Dina had grown up in an upper-middle-class family. Her family provided her with an excellent education–French Lycée school, Sacre Coeur, American University of Cairo–and instilled in her a sense of social responsibility. In 1992, while a university student, she formed the Environmental Awareness Association, a student group she initially chaired. Dina’s interests in politics and economics led her to pursue work experiences with the United National Development Program, Save the Children, and other development groups, from which she gained broad exposure to development in the Middle East, and to tools like microcredit.
In 1995 Dina married and, two years later, delivered her first child, Ali. Initially, things seemed entirely normal. But when Ali was thee months old, he got sick and a doctor who was not the boy’s routine doctor examined him. Dina watched the doctor examine her child–he looked carefully at Ali’s ears and palms and head–and she realized that something was wrong, something she and her husband had not been told. She asked, then demanded, that the doctor tell her what was wrong. She learned that Ali had Down’s syndrome. (About Ali read more on this Ashoka page).
Dina Abdel Wahab: she is also the Head of Community Development Council.
Minutes of Community Development Meeting;