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Teaching special needs children using music, in Sharjah

DUBAI // Hanan Al Attar has made it her life’s work to ensure children with special needs feel included in mainstream education.

Ms Al Attar created a programme using music and interactive games to teach children with physical or mental disabilities basic lessons in mathematics, Arabic and English.

“For a Child’s Smile”, is used in most schools in the Sharjah Educational Zone and won Ms Al Attar a prestigious Emirates Award for Educational Excellence.

“We’re working for their smile,” said the zone’s music supervisor. “I can say that this is a project of my life. I’m very happy, of course, very proud. It’s always very nice to feel that when you are doing something good, you are appreciated.”

Ms Al Attar was among 40 administrators, teachers, schools, students and educational zones honoured in 14 categories at the Ministry of Education’s Emirates Awards for Excellence ceremony on Wednesday.

The award winners will share prize money of about Dh500,000, said Adel Al Marzouqi, the ministry’s institutional excellence department manager who oversees the annual awards.

“This year we had more than 270 people apply,” Mr Al Marzouqi said. “These awards are important to improve the work in the ministry and to showcase best practices, which can be applied to different schools across the UAE. We can see all the good work.”

Ms Al Attar explained her programme.

“The first thing is we give them the subject by music, it’s like math, like Arabic, like English,” said Ms Al Attar, who won the outstanding supervisor award. “We put it in a type of song so it will be easier for them to remember and to learn.

“The other thing is we get the talented students and we make it like a big orchestra. They play music with the normal students so they feel proud of themselves.

“They sing also. I have a choir. I have 150 students singing. Twenty five per cent are disabled children and 75 per cent supporters, as we call them.”

Ms Al Attar said her programme also included multimedia games on tablet computers.

Staff at Ajman School for Secondary Education was also honoured for their creative use of social media to engage students. The school’s e-learning team won the excellent team award.

“We have used Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo and PBworks in teaching,” said Mona Talat, an English teacher.

“Most of our students like to email each other and use Twitter, so we use those things as the tools to let them learn and they like it, of course.”

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(via The National)