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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Interview: Evangelical School Exemplifies Special Needs Education in Jordan

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Director describes how Alliance school’s “Christian spirit” addresses social challenges to achieve academic inclusion of students with disabilities.

Ten years ago, evangelicals in Jordan helped pioneer inclusive education for students with disabilities. A decade later the minister of education patronized their commencement event.

Founded in 2014, Alliance Academy Jordan (AAJ), owned by the local Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) church, began with 54 students in kindergarten through second grade. Adding a grade level each year, its first graduating class of two students completes a now 350-student body—17 of which have disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism and ADHD.

Another 31 have different levels of learning disabilities that require special class support and attention. Over the years, AAJ has enrolled 71 such students altogether.

It is a drop in the bucket.

In 2017, the Jordanian government launched a 10-year plan for nationwide inclusive education. AAJ was on the initial advisory committee of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that prepared it.

American funding is helping Jordan meet its goal of 30 public inclusive schools in its major cities by 2025, mandating professional development for all. Another 30 schools are planned for less-developed areas after that.

A 2020 study found that only 19 percent of teachers in Jordan were trained appropriately for special needs education. And while 11 percent of youth above the age of 5 have some sort of disability, 79 percent receive no form of schooling at all.

Last year the Higher Council selected AAJ as one of six members to form a public-private school association to share expertise and help in implementation. With an average class size of 17, AAJ is uniquely positioned to serve special needs students as it aids the national endeavor toward their social integration.

And beginning …

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