Strategy& outlines approach for GCC to enable students with disabilities

30 November 2018

The GCC states will need to overhaul their education systems for students with disabilities if they are to live to their full potential says a new report from Strategy&.

The good news first, according to consultancy Strategy&: the nations of the GCC share a commitment to the well-being of their young citizens with disabilities and recognise the need to improve educational and social outcomes, as evidenced at least by a range of policies in development. These include a national strategy for people with disabilities in Bahrain, and the national transformation programme’s special education initiatives in Saudi Arabia.

Beyond the individual, the benefits to society and the economy are significant. As the report states, “By improving education and better integrating these students into the workforce, the government’s long-term burden is reduced. A proper approach to special education means that these individuals are more likely to become capable of earning a living, paying their way, and contributing their talents to society, instead of the government shouldering the costs of healthcare and social care over their lifetime.”

However, Strategy& contends that there remains certain attitudes and obstacles that cause an underestimation of the true scale of need, with the genuine number of students with disabilities masked by issues such as poor awareness and assessment among parents and educators, unclear diagnostic standards to detect and classify disabilities, and a surrounding social reluctance to acknowledge disability in the first place.A learner-centric approach to educationIn the event that there is a diagnosis of disability, further systemic issues persist as to local education and support services, including insufficient planning and coordination among public and private sector entities and a wider lack of qualified special education expertise across the spectrum of disability. Ultimately, without professional development training in the latest of pedagogical approaches, teachers frequently underestimate the potential of students with disabilities.

With the GCC states eager to address the overlying situation, in so that young nationals with disabilities can contribute to society and live their lives to the fullest, Strategy& in its report recommends local governments revamp their special education systems for a contemporary learner-centric model. This approach would consist of four key elements; individualised intervention, a learning ecosystem and a support ecosystem, and assistive technologies.

In respect to individualised intervention, GCC governments will first need to promote greater awareness in parents and educators, so that individualied education plans (IEPs) can be formulated at the earliest stage of development after a diagnosis of disability has been made. Then, efforts should be made to build a fully or partially inclusive education ecosystem for students with disabilities to aid with socialisation, educating mainstream students in the process.

As to the supportive ecosystem, this includes educational institutes offering basic support resources while partnering with external specialist service providers for more complex needs – with, critically, the support network extending to parents and caregivers beyond the school setting. Meanwhile, says Strategy&, governments and educators should seek to leverage quickly advancing assistive technologies, for example with apps that translate speech to sign-language.

“By adopting a learner-centric approach, governments will fulfill an obligation to care for all their citizens and bring quality of life, economic, and societal benefits to students with disabilities and their families,” the authors of the report conclude. “By being engaged in their education and then the workplace, these individuals will be more independent with a greater sense of purpose, which makes them financially and mentally healthier.”

UAE banking and finance educators sign MoU with PwC's Academy ME

12 March 2019

The Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies has formed a strategic partnership with PwC's Academy ME – the business education unit of PwC Middle East – to deliver courses on Fintech, Blockchain and Data Analytics.

The Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies – EIBFS, an education and training organisation for the banking and financial services sectors in the UAE – has signed a strategic agreement with PwC Middle East’s educational wing, PwC Academy ME, to collaborate on delivering new professional certificate courses in the fields of Fintech, Blockchain and Data Analytics.

According to EIBFS, the new offerings form part of the organisation’s strategic initiatives to develop future skill-sets for the local banking and finance industry.  “We have conducted a holistic industry-driven multi-stage learning need analysis with an emphasis on techno-functional skills in order to prepare UAE nationals for a disruptive digital era,” said EIBFS General Manager Jamal Al Jassmi.

Established in 1983, with state of the art campuses in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai and serving more than 26,000 trainees across a roster of 885 training programmes last year, EIBFS in its mission statement seeks to contribute towards emiratisation, promote scientific research, and upgrade and disseminate specialised knowledge in the banking and finance sector, in line with nation’s Vision 2021 agenda.UAE banking and finance educators sign MoU with PwC's Academy ME“Our strategic partnership with PwC’s Academy targets fintech, blockchain and data analytics to enhance future skills and aptitudes that bank employees have to adopt,” added Al Jassmi, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at an EIBFS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting together with PwC partner and Middle East Academy lead Amanda Line, a former ICAEW Chartered Accountant of the Year.

Line – who established the Middle East office of the ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, one of the world’s leading professional bodies for the accountancy and finance industry with over 150,000 members worldwide) – now leads a fast-growing PwC Academy unit which today has branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh, Muscat, Doha, Beirut and Amman.

Originally established in Europe nearly 20 years ago, PwC’s Middle East Academy is now part of a network of more than forty such institutions the Big Four professional services firm operates across the globe – locally offering a range of courses across three primary faculties; Finance and Tax, HR and Leadership, and Digital. In 2016, the Academy delivered over 55,000 participant training days for 15,000-plus professionals and students.

“Our strategic partnership with EIBFS provides a platform for creative, collaborative and value-driven learning,” said Line. With a focus on current and disruptive topics, such as data analytics, machine learning and human literacy, we can boost the success of UAE nationals as well as the growth of the financial sector in the UAE, true to our promise of supporting the sustainable growth of talent across the region.”

According to a press release, PwC’s Academy ME will handle the content and delivery of the three new certification programmes in collaboration with EIBFS, which, joining other existing EIBFS ‘techno-functional’ offerings in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Cybersecurity, will involve pre-course reading, intensive classroom sessions, post-course case studies, and the dreaded examinations.

Related: EY Iraq to collaborate with training institute Morgan International