Posted on January 06, 2020

Qatar University’s (QU) Foundation Program (FP), under the Deanship of General Studies, hosted an appreciation ceremony in collaboration with the QU Inclusion and Special Needs Support Center (ISNSC) where students with special needs and disabilities honored faculty, student helpers, and peer trainers in order to highlight their dedication and efforts in facilitating their learning experience. 

The event, organized by FP Student Support Committee (FPSSC), aimed to promote inclusion and encourage students with special needs and disabilities to exercise their leadership skills by organizing the event themselves and communicating with relevant stakeholders. The lead organizers were 13 students with special needs and disabilities. Having decided on the format of the event, small groups of students were responsible for different tasks including arriving at a criteria for and selecting ‘bright star’ teachers, planning the presentations, creating the program,  preparing a presentation, setting up the venue and meeting and greeting guests.

During the event, 17 teachers were honored for their outstanding commitment and support for students with special needs and disabilities inside and outside the classroom. In addition, certificates of attendance were presented to students who participated in the Special Needs Helper Training workshops, while special needs student helpers who facilitated training workshops as peer trainers were awarded certificates of recognition. To help students achieve their full academic potential, the lead of Special Needs team within FPSSC, Dr. Enita Barret, introduced this initiative to promote general student involvement and communities of learning and to hone students’ leadership skills.  

The FPSSC also awarded certificates of recognition to the students who organized the event. In closing the event, selected students and faculty members shared their thoughts, reflections and words of encouragement. Director of the FP Dr. Hezam Al-Awah said, “FP is committed to providing all students with necessary resources, in particular, special needs and disability students to enable students to develop their skills and achieve their full academic potential. This event creates opportunities for students to develop independence and self-advocacy, and FP will continue with collaborative projects with ISNSC to assist students in their university journey.”

Assistant Director for Student Affairs in the FP Hayat El Samad, emphasized the goal of this social event and said, “Foundation Program Student Affairs Office is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to contribute to the QU community, and the appreciation ceremony is one of them. The integration of students with special needs and disabilities into the university community is achieved by enhancing the communication channels among students, faculty and management, to ensure a positive university experience. The students with special needs felt strongly about honoring their instructors and showcasing their commitment and keenness on enhancing the success of all students.”

The number of special needs students registered in courses offered by FP has increased from 23 in 2015 to 68 students in 2019. The increase in the student number requires special accommodations like extra time and separate rooms, scribes and/or helpers, especially for assessments. Accordingly, FP is working to insure there are enough rooms and qualified invigilators are available for proper assessment administration, while ISNSC provides the helpers.