Promoting awareness and recognition of people with disabilities
The State of Kuwait plays a significant and leading role amongst Arab States in terms of awareness, advocacy and recognition of disabilities and inclusion. There are currently 27,000 registered persons with disabilities in Kuwait benefiting from a diverse range of benefits and services that guarantee their inclusion as well as positive contribution to the Kuwaiti society.
UNDP Kuwait has been actively supporting the Government of Kuwait’s continuous plans to raise the standards of primary education as well as maximize the support and enabling of individuals with disability in Kuwait. It is especially important to note the strong and growing role that civil society, in particular disabled-persons organizations, are playing in this process.
More recently, UNDP Kuwait initiated the Early Learning Challenges (ELC) programme in collaboration with a national partner, the Supreme Council for Planning & Development. The Programme has managed to achieve a strong impact in the field of disabilities and inclusion in Kuwait.
In 2002, one of the national beneficiaries of the project, Kuwait Dyslexia Association (KDA) concluded a two-year survey study of developmental dyslexia and reading disorders. The survey concluded that around 6.29% of students attending primary, intermediary, and secondary schools (both mainstream and private) were dyslexics. The survey study was completed in 24 months and is, thus far, the only survey study conducted across the whole Arab World which highlights the prevalence rate of dyslexia in Kuwait.
UNDP further provided technical assistance to KDA to develop an Arabic localized computer-based tool for early identification of at-risk Kuwaiti children.The Cognitive Profiling System (CoPS) is the only one of its kind in the Arab World used to identify at-risk children from the age of 4 years until 8 years and 11 months.
The success of the ELC Programme prompted the Kuwait Ministry of Education to enhance its offered services for individuals with learning disabilities by working on providing 650 teachers specializing in learning disabilities over the next ten years, in both private and mainstream government schools. UNDP experts working on the ELC Project provided much needed feedback and assistance to PAAET (Faculty of Basic Education) to introduce a dedicated programme on learning disabilities for student teachers at both kindergarten, primary, and intermediary levels.
With the support of UNDP, many Kuwaiti nationals are now able to share their work with their Gulf and Arab colleagues in an effort to cross-fertilize the progress and benefits to the rest of the Gulf and Arab countries.
- The ELC Project helped beneficiaries conduct 37 public lectures and talks, 4 national TV appearances, and 7 trainings to raise awareness about learning disabilities.
- UNDP organized the first ever Early Learning Challenges Workshop that resulted in toolkits for teachers and parents of children with disabilities.
- UNDP helped establish the first Learning Disabilities Library and a dedicated, national help-line for learning disabilities in Kuwait.