Doctoral Student in Learning Disabilities Reaches Out to the Middle East
A TC doctoral student with a concentration in Learning Disabilities in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Maysaa Bazna, a Syrian citizen living in Kuwait, is proposing an initiative in the Middle East to improve the teaching of children with special needs.
Bazna is proposing a six-credit certificate for the instruction of students with learning disabilities, which will be delivered to nine countries in the Middle East.
According to Bazna, 10 percent of Kuwaiti children are diagnosed as learning disabled, yet teachers graduate from the Kuwait School of Education without learning how to provide instruction for students who experience difficulties learning from traditional teaching. Bazna is looking forward to improving and enhancing the quality of education for all children in Arabic speaking countries. More specifically, she is developing projects that will concentrate on inclusion of all children, particularly those with special needs.
"The essence of the crisis," Bazna said, "is the paucity of quality education for children with learning disabilities in both special and general education settings in the region. The core of the crisis," she added, "stems from the lack of teacher education and training in the fields of learning disabilities and inclusive education and the limited availability of teacher preparation programs in special education."
Bazna has already done a needs assessment, which was supported by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). After spending a summer as an intern at the CEC, Bazna garnered financial support for her proposal from the Sultan Educational Foundation in Kuwait. Further, with the assistance of her dissertation advisor, Professor D. Kim Reid, Professor Jim Borland, Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, and other departmental faculty, Bazna has arranged support from the Middle East Center for Culture and Development (MECCAD), an emerging independent not-for-profit organization based in New York City, Amman, Jordan, and in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Bazna has also been working with the Center for Outreach and Innovation, specifically the Distance Learning Project, and the Office of Sponsored Research.
MECCAD has set up the Distance Learning Teacher Education Project and is proposing that TC deliver a certificate program in learning disabilities first in Kuwait, and then in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The proposal calls for five, five-hour days on site with the remainder of the course being offered by distance education. Professor Reid and Jan Valle, a doctoral student in Curriculum and Teaching with a concentration in learning disabilities, will provide instruction for the certificate.
Bazna envisions the project reaching other countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, and anticipates that over the first three-year period of the project, at least 360 participants-teachers, teacher assistants, school administrators, and other professionals-will be impacted.
"It's a win-win situation for TC and the educators in the region. It encourages participants to pursue further education by applying the credits earned towards a master's degree and it uses TC's inquiry-based, sociocultural approach to modifying instruction in literacy and mathematics."