The 2nd of April is marked around the world as an occasion to raise awareness, or promote acceptance of autism. This year, a team from ACER, led by Dr Karen Guldberg (below, in blue scarf), is conducting fieldwork in Qatar as part of one of the many international projects run by the autism research team at the University of Birmingham. Here, Dr Lila Kossyvaki (front row, centre) gives a summary of the project and the ways in which the team are helping to identify issues concerning educational inclusion in Qatar.
“ACER has been commissioned by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), an initiative of the Qatar Foundation, to examine current access to and quality of education provided to individuals with autism in Qatar. Dr Karen Guldberg (Principal Investigator), Dr Lila Kossyvaki (Co-investigator), Dr Elaine Ashbee and Abdullah Basulayyim have been visiting Qatar between 28th March and 4th April to conduct interviews and focus groups with a sample of key stakeholders such as professionals (teachers and therapists), parents, spiritual leaders and people working for the Ministry of Education. The visits have included, amongst others, the Renad Academy, Sidra Medical & Research Centre, the Child Developmental Centre, the Mind Institute, Qatar Assistive Technology Centre (MADA) and Awsaj Academy. A number of fascinating themes have emerged so far and the team will be moving forward with analysis of the data in the next few weeks.
Following our visit, we plan to administer a questionnaire to schools in Qatar to get a broader view of the knowledge and understanding of school professionals in relation to the needs of pupils with autism. The work will result in a report that will be presented at the WISE Biennial Summit. This will be held between 14th and 16th November 2017 in Doha. This study builds on the work ACER has led with the Transform Autism Education project and broadens our understanding of provision and practice for pupils with autism internationally.”