Inclusion in Palestine

The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) has, from its birth, aimed to provide education to all children regardless of their diverse and varying needs. Faced with scarce specialized human and material resources, the ministry elected inclusive education (IE) to address these needs as this would utilize the already existing schools and staff.      

In 1997, the MoEHE, with the help of a number of non-Palestinian organizations, piloted inclusive education (education that excludes no child regardless of her/his challenges and that takes into account students' individual differences and the diversity of their needs). Inclusive education counselors were trained and appointed in twelve Palestinian directorates, awareness meetings were held with students, teachers, parents and directors, teachers of the participating schools were trained, schools were equipped with the necessary resources and efforts were made to make the buildings and the school environments more welcoming.  By the end of the pilot phase, 89 schools were involved.

In the year 2000, the MoEHE adopted IE as a general program to be implemented in all schools between 2006 and 2007, during which it facilitated the registration of many students with a range of additional needs in mainstream classrooms. The support available for these students was inadequate (for many reasons, including: lack of support staff in some schools, numbers of students per class, curriculum density and its disregard for diverse learners, lack of teacher training, lack of policy). This was addressed by assigning a teacher from each participating school to act as a mediator between the school and the directory and to see to it that the students' needs were being met.

.In 2014, an Inclusive Education policy was drafted and launched and is currently being adapted to accommodate the feedback of the participants and stakeholders

 

Shifa Sheikha,
Director of Special Education, MoEHE