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Grant_Proposal__Al_Walid_Bin_Talal_Foundationdocx - Global Hand

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Grant_Proposal__Al_Walid_Bin_Talal_Foundationdocx - Global Hand

Nahida Ahmad Al Assi, Associate professor

    Researcher, Program Developer, Teacher Trainer, Material Writer and lecturer

    Planning and Development committee

    Association for Care of People with Epilepsy in Lebanon

    Quayya’a wosta, Saida, Lebanon

    Webmail: nahida@nahida-elassi.com

    Gmail: nahida.assi@gmail.com

    Hotmail: nahida.elassi@hotmail.com

    Mobile: 00961 3 974598; Tele: 009615603004

    21 March 2011

To: Al Walid Bin Talal Foundation

    Subject: Establishing a non-profit school for Special Educational Needs (SEN) people in Lebanon and the region Dear Grant donors,

    I am writing to you because I am confident that you support good causes. My good cause is helping the people who are deprived of proper and decent education and thus left behind in their own societies not because they are poor, but because they are slow learners, and people with epilepsy, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, dyslexia, and individuals with low-vision or blindness, or simply suffer from high levels of test anxiety. Those are Special Educational Needs people (henceforth SEN) that are normal, should not be perceived as abnormal, and can advance in their education if special curricula are set to address their needs. However, in reality, they are suffering from being underestimated and considered lowly, minor, disabled, inferior or even retarded humans. These misconceptions result from our society’s

    ignorance about what SEN means; the society focusing on SEN individuals’ weaknesses rather than

    potentials; our educational system being deficient and not raising people’s awareness; and schools not

    being appropriately prepared, staffed or equipped to accommodate or address SENs. In fact, nothing is more frustrating than seeing those SEN individuals being kicked out of their schools as early as the elementary stage for something they are born with and is beyond their control. I, one of the people who have had good experience at dealing with SEN, know that those make a considerable percentage of the nation's most challenged students and deserve to be taken care of.

    It is a sad truth, isn’t it?! The questions that are brought forward are “Till when will those people be

    stigmatized, marginalized, and underprivileged?” and “Till when will the Ministry of Education keep the SEN curricula and plan hidden in the drawers and far from being implemented?” It seems that the

    economic situation in Lebanon is a warning signal that nothing will happen in the near future. For this, I can see that there is a persisting and urgent need to establish a school for SEN individuals in Lebanon and possibly the region. As a researcher, program developer, teacher trainer, material writer and researcher, I strongly believe that if we cooperate we can do wonders to make the dream come true: SEN

    individuals being perceived as normal individuals rather than being marginalized or misperceived, reaching their full potentials, gaining their due respect and appreciation from society, given their due chances to work and be independent, having their self-esteem and morale raised, and saving their parents and families from suffering from negative repercussions of their fate.

    The following stories provide some detailed accounts of my experience with SEN individuals, explain the reasons behind my proposal, and justify the feasibility of my solution. First, as my resume indicates, I was a department chair for six years in a private school. During that period, out of concern about students being labelled as careless, or reported as problem students or hopeless cases, I set a plan to do

    action research, find out what teachers meant by those labels, assess the authenticity of their evaluation,

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    and find a solution, be it through training teachers to be better observers. I arranged for pre-planned classroom observations, trained teachers to do peer observations, and held more department meetings to discuss and evaluate all the findings. In brief, the “problem students” were 18 who showed considerable

    amount of SEN signs (dyslexia, ADHD, high levels of test anxiety, and slow learning). To help those students and keep track of their performance, I opened portfolios, observed classes, did the preliminary diagnosis, reported their situation to specialists, communicated their problems with their parents, and transferred them for formal diagnosis and later treatment. This number, equivalent to approximately 2% of the student body (1000 students), was high. Luckily, doctors’ reports and recommendations legitimized

    the new measures that teachers took with each individual case under my supervision. With time, those students’ behaviours and achievement levels obviously improved a lot. Without the measures I took,

    those students would have been repeating classes and thus kicked out of school after that. The question that this brought forward is, “If this school that enrols students on the basis of a screening test has this

    number of SEN students, what would be the situation in public schools where classes are much bigger, facilities are not available, teachers in general are less qualified, students come from poor backgrounds, students from different age groups are in the same class, and the rate of repeaters is high? Of course, if their parents are uneducated, which is true in most of the cases, they will be obliged to work and become additional income providers for their families.

    The situation outside schools is not better. Working with the Association for Care of Epileptic Patients in Lebanon for eleven years, I have come to realize that people with epilepsy, not to mention the retarded, are the social group that is most victimized. The following long story provides a clear picture about SEN individuals’ sufferings that mandate the need for urgent solution.

    The story of The Association for Care of Epileptic Patients in Lebanon started in 1999, two years before it was legally/formally established. Aya, the beautiful and harmless young child was kicked out of school because she was epileptic. She was in Grade 4 when she had her first seizure while in the playground during recess. Amazingly, her teacher started screaming and her behaviour scared other children who by transfer behaved more terribly; this resulted in negative repercussions. In fact, Aya’s parents acted

    directly, had Aya diagnosed, and went back to school with the medical report. They met with the school principal and explained Aya’s situation as an epileptic person. Since seizures would rarely happen when Aya was taking her medicaments, and as a precaution measure, they proposed that they bring Aya a special seat with belts to guarantee that she would not fall down in case she had another seizure, and a helmet so she would not hurt her head when in the playground. The principal seemed to be cooperative. However, although Aya did not have any seizure after that, at the end of the year he announced that Aya would not get back to school the following year.

    Aya finished school with an average of 84/100, an average that meant she was not a retarded child, as many believe epilepsy means, or a slow learner in the worst scenario. After that, Aya was not accepted in any other regular school. Her parents had to fetch for a special school. However, in the absence of such specialized schools, they had to register her in a so-called Special Educational Needs School (henceforth SEN). She went to that school for a couple of months, but her parents decided that she quit because

    1. the curriculum breadth and balance was not well studied,

    2. safety precautions were not available,

    3. teachers were not specialized to deal with SEN students,

    4. students were not given instruction in small groups,

    5. students were left alone without complete supervision when in the playground,

    6. students in the same class came from diverse age groups and backgrounds, and

    7. most importantly, Aya became bad tempered and learned to call bad names and scream at

    others nervously

    As a result, Aya started taking special lessons as a compensation for dropping out of school, but that was boring to her especially because her teacher was not specialized in teaching SEN students. Aya stayed

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    home under the supervision of a nanny. Because of the medicaments she was taking and irregular and infrequent seizures, Aya’s parents could not get to grips with or control her sleep hours. She ended up spending most of the day time asleep, and consequently, with time, started showing signs of deterioration in her social skills, the thing that we believe happens with all similar cases.

    In brief, Aya’s situation pushed her mother, who was then a staff nurse, to set a goal: making a good case of the situation and spreading knowledge about epilepsy through mass media. After a lot of efforts, Aya’s mother, Manar, appeared in an interview in a TV program in 2000. Within a year, in 2001, one more interview took place on another TV channel. In addition, Manar attended the first International Bureau for Epilepsy (henceforth IBE) conference in Morocco. Those were occasions to start a campaign against leaving Epileptic people behind. Meanwhile, a group of volunteers, who were interested in pursuing the case, including myself, formed a group of activists who would do their best to make the Ministry of Education interfere to stop unfairness in schools. True, we had the hope of making a difference. However, since establishing an association was then a difficult, time consuming and farfetched goal/task, and because we wanted to stand on solid grounds, we, the focus group, spent about two years doing the following activities:

    1. Creating a data bank about medical, social and psychological issues pertaining to epilepsy and

    epileptic people in Lebanon.

    2. Doing research to get to statistical figures that would make the case stronger.

    3. Raising funds to help the needy epileptic patients.

    4. Planning awareness campaigns so that knowledge would be spread and no victims would be

    dropped out of schools.

    Interestingly, some people whose children showed some signs of epilepsy started calling for clarifications. Enthusiastic about the effect of our work, Manar started contacting political entities and working on establishing the Association for Care Epileptic Patients in Lebanon. In 2001, the Association for Care of Epileptic Patients in Lebanon, an NGO, was established with the help of Deputy Bahia Al Hariri and has ever since been the ONLY association that targets people with epilepsy living on the Lebanese territory to address some of their needs. Manar was the president. This accomplishment gave us a boost to work harder and at the same time take calculated steps, but financially we were nil. Only our determination and goodwill to work for the welfare of people who were left behind kept us standing.

    During the first five years, using a survey questionnaire, we could reach 521 epileptic patients most of whom were needy. We learned that none of those patients who suffered from mild or severe epilepsy continued study at school and their mothers were housewives because they could not leave them alone. Still, the estimates did not reflect the real size of the population of epileptic people because epilepsy was a stigma to rich and un-needy people. That is, the number of patients was surely much bigger. Unfortunately, the Lebanese community believe that epilepsy is equivalent to madness and thus has eventually rejected to admit that epileptic patients are like all other people: normal, can be educated, can work and be successful in their careers, and can even marry and have children. However, we persisted and wanted to change those wrong perceptions.

    To encourage people to report their cases, the Association decided to take a new turn: support epileptic patients with medicaments. We had two problems and only one glimpse of hope. The first problem was that the Ministry of Health could not give us medicaments because we did not have an infirmary connected with the Association center. This meant that we had to buy them from our own money. The second problem was that medicine distributors were not always supportive. That is, they passed on the medicaments that would expire in a short period. In that case, they gave it to us for free, and we did the

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    same with patients. Still we could do our job even in the absence of financial support from the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education because of the government austerity budgets. To continue with our mission and fulfil our promise to epileptic people, we bought those medicaments from pharmacies and sold them to patients at a half price. That is, we paid 50% of the price. How did we do that? We had three sources of income. First, Manar, the born talented in handcrafts, could make high quality produce from sewing, drawing on glass, carving on copper, rope work, making accessories from beads, and making tableaus and canvases from silk warm cocoons. Selling her produce and using all her profit to support epileptic patients led to an important turning point in the life of the Association. Appreciating this work, Deputy Bahia Al Hariri offered the Association a shop in Khan al Ifranj to display our produce. Khan al Ifranj is one of the most important touristic sites located in the Sidon city in south Lebanon that many tourists visit regularly. In it, we developed an open expo center, the profit from which made our second source of income. Consequently, the funds raised and the profit made from selling the produce in the Association center and Khan al Ifranj were allotted to that good cause: supporting medicaments. Surprisingly, with that money, we could support the 521 with medicaments. This situation mandated that the Association’s mission statement to be “supporting patients medically”.

    For two years and with perseverance and determination, we could support 21 patients of the 521 with extra medical checkups and laboratory tests because they were too needy. That was our accomplishment! To proceed more strongly, we had to make little more effort on raising funds.

    A new accomplishment in 2005 was that our Association became a full member in the IBE and an article about the Association was added. In 2006-2007, the first project that we thought about was the “Loom

    Project for Making Carpets”. Our purpose was to bring into the Association center as many epileptic

    patients as possible and train them on making carpets in a safe and risk-free place since they could work while seated. This project paved the way for nine epileptic patients and their parents to start working while together and at the same time making some money. For this project, we bought the materials, paid for trainers, and paid for the work done from the funds raised. The quality of work was very good; however, because the cost was high, we could not sell the whole produce. We recognized that we had to halt the project and come up with new ideas. In that period, because donations were not fixed and the profit from handcrafts minimal, we could serve patients on the basis of first come first served. To resolve the financial crisis, we studied the market needs and found that handcrafts were more demanded, and the space the looms occupied could be used more efficiently. We launched the “handcrafts project” to be for the public.

    In 2007, Manar, the President of the Association, volunteered to provide training on handcrafts. Training included all handcrafts: sewing, drawing on glass, carving on copper, rope work, making accessories from beads, and making tableaus and canvases from silk warm cocoons. In this project, trainees were not only epileptic patients and their parents but also the local community housewives. Those were later assigned tasks according to the need and to the areas where each excelled. Through “the handcrafts project”, we

    succeeded in accommodating more people and ensured a faster source of income to them all. An important change was that more normal people started visiting the center and thus paved the way for epileptic people to have more chances to communicate with the wider community. The project was successful; trainees acquired new skills and were motivated to perform tasks assigned to them. People who visited the center were metaphorically the task force that promoted the work of the association alongside the team of volunteers. The Association’s income in that year ranged between 48 and 62

    million Lebanese Liras (equivalent to USD 32000 to 40000 respectively). Since then, this amount has been enough to support patients only till September each year. For this, the Association could not proceed with research because our budgets were not enough to support new visiting patients, and we were not willing to spend any penny from the budget assigned for medical support. We even felt it would be unfair for us to ask volunteers to do the research without paying for their transportation at least. By that

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    time, donors reduced their pay in the face of the economic situation in the country. This in turn made us slow the pace of production so as not to freeze more money in produce that would take time to be sold out. Still we worked hard and thanked God for sustaining our status quo.

    During this period, new members (volunteers) joined in and helped in buying as well as promoting our produce. Our great accomplishment was then expanding the Association’s mission statement to

    become “helping epileptic patients become active and somewhat financially independent citizens, and raising the society’s awareness about epilepsy so that those patients would not be marginalized or stigmatized”. We tried to open communication channels with the existing NGOs so we

    would know more about each other, exchange information, support each other, and plan more properly. However, although our presence did not challenge their presence, those NGOs were attempting to marginalize us by taking advantage of the political situation in the country, and playing the power games to dominate or subdue our Association. This mandated that we work alone.

    In this same year, a sad event happened and proved to us that we needed to act urgently and stand up for the rights of epileptic patients. The event also made us think of all possibilities to avoid further occurrences.

    The Unreasonable, Unacceptable Death of an Epileptic Patient

    -

    In 2009, a young epileptic girl, seven years of age, died because of ignorance and

    irresponsibility. Simply, the mom is divorced and has got four children including this child.

    She is not educated, and thus her only source of income comes from her cleaning houses

    for which she is paid on daily basis. The mother had breast cancer lately, but did not

    undergo treatment because of poverty. She started treatment only after the cancer

    spread all over her breast and is now in her worst condition. On the other hand, the

    daughter was born when her mother lacked oxygen during delivery, and thus suffered

    from health problems. The epileptic daughter’s treating doctor prescribed five different

    medicaments specific to epilepsy (Topppamax, Tegratol, etc.). Since the mother was sick,

    could not work, and needed treatment, she could not afford to buy those medicaments

    and thus consulted another doctor to see if he could prescribe cheaper but equally

    effective medicaments. Amazingly enough, the new doctor presumed that there could be

    other cheaper medicaments that had a similar formula. The consequence was that the

    daughter suffered from the side effects: rash, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. The mom

    went back to the first doctor whom she trusted from beginning, but she did not report the

    change of medicaments. Not knowing what happened, when the doctor checked on the

    child, he thought she had chickenpox rather than suffered from side effects resulting from

    the change of medicaments. At the end, because of the mother’s ignorance and the

    second doctor’s irresponsibility, the child died. Paradoxically, the mother did not know the

    real reason; she thought it was a normal situation in case of epilepsy.

    With lots of hard work and follow-up, Manar became the regional president for IBE in 2008 and attended its first conference in France. The importance of the conference lied in the fact that we recognized the size of the problem internationally. In 2010, I, as the Planning Committee chair, prepared a power point for Manar to present IBE conference in Dubai, and this time with more estimates and figures. Through it, we also learned that the situation in many of the Arab countries was not better than that in Lebanon. Meanwhile, more people started to visit the Association, and many parents and their children joined the workshop and worked in a risk-free and stress-free place. The amount of produce we could make enabled the Association to make a new move. We contacted schools so we would sell our produce as gifts to students before Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Christmas. March and December became fixed

    dates on the Association’s agenda to prepare for expos in schools. During this period, I, as an educationist and a department chair, decided that Epilepsy be one of the topics assigned for group

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    projects and presentations in schools. Students that did the project in the first school were awarded gifts and later joined the association as volunteers. We were aware that the Association was growing bigger, but at the same time knew that with more planning, we could create more sources of income. In 2010, we knew from IBE about their Promising Strategies Grants Program. I submitted a proposal for the ECAL Chocolate Making and Wrapping project. The Association received the USD 5000 grant, the maximum amount possible. After finishing the feasibility study, we knew that preparing the site for this project would cost a lot more, but we could not resist the temptation. We refurbished the center (new electricity and water installations, air-conditioning, dehumidifiers, etc) and brought in all the tools and equipment for the project. The whole project cost us USD 17000. We launched the chocolate moulding, wrapping and decorating in December 2010, and instantly received the first order for 200 kg. To make this project more successful, we, the members, our friends and neighbours were the first group of customers and promoters. Through this project, one of the association’s aims was to offer new jobs that make new sources of income to the patients’ mothers and to make some fixed gains from chocolate

    selling to be able to support the existing patients more strongly and new patients if possible. The good news was that more epileptic patients and their parents started gaining skills without which they would not be productive. They have mastered the techniques of chocolate making as well as the making of accessories in a risk-free environment. Our accomplishment was that after 10 years in the age of the Association, the whole team that is working for the Association are volunteers except for the accountant/secretary who is employed because she is epileptic.

     ,

    Two changes took place in this period. The Association’s name became “Association for Care of People with Epilepsy in Lebanon”. This was mainly because people rejected the idea that an epileptic person is a

    patient. To avoid all sorts of confusion, the Association’s logo stuck on Chocolate wraps, boxes and bags

    carries the acronym ECAL. We communicated this intention with the IBE and they agreed. Now, the Association, 400 meter squares, is divided into two parts for the two projects (handcrafts and chocolate). Consequently, our produce is on display the thing that attracts more visitors and buyers, and creates good conditions for more communication between epileptic patients and those visitors. Since the two projects are the domain for epileptic people, I found it important to make epileptic patients do the complete job of marketing and selling the chocolate produce. For this, I have prepared an ESP course (English for Specific Purposes) to teach epileptic patients all about the work they do and train them to experience face-to-face communication situations with customers. The ESP course is an English course that

    1. Is tailored to address epileptic people’s needs

    2. Has breadth and balance

    a. Focuses on the vocabulary used in the Association’s workshops,

    b. Describe the step-by-step procedures for handcrafts and chocolate making,

    c. Stresses on business language to promote the Association`s produce, and

    d. Includes language structures that are needed for the execution of social events (cocktails,

    Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Christmas events) and activities.

    3. Enables epileptic patients to develop their skills when outside the confines of the Association, to

    become socially more active, and regain some of their self-image and respect.

    Although we have not received donations to implement this project, we will not give up. We will keep knocking the doors of good people who can afford to give up little of their money.

We expanded our mission statement that has become “to support epileptic patients medically,

    socially and technically so they would become independent and productive social entities”. In

    addition, our mission is to support the patients` parents not only by offering them training and jobs, but also supporting them educationally and psychologically. ECAL is currently being led by the president and 9 volunteers including myself, an administrative council of 28 members and a general assembly of all the patients and their mothers. People who do the work are epileptic patients and their parents under the

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    supervision of the president and a team of four professional members. Planning is sustained. Now that the work is more organized, we have three activities on our agenda:

    1. Reviewing the survey questionnaire, and continuing with more research

    2. Leading two new awareness campaigns one of which is through the Epilepsy Competition. Our

    audience are students in Grades 10, 11, and 12 in all secondary schools in South Lebanon. The

    tool for this competition is a set of questions that relate scientifically to Epilepsy and epileptic

    patients’ lives, and indirectly leads to clarifying misconceptions. The competitor interested in

    being short-listed to win the gift has to read and do computer search to answer all the questions

    correctly. Through this competition, the Association will have achieved one of its objectives:

    spreading knowledge about epilepsy to the wider community.

    In a nutshell, my work with SEN regular students and the Association have taught me that SEN individuals make more than 6% of the population, and that something should be done to them. This same call was sent to the whole nation on 17 March 2010, on TV through the news journal. Practitioners and parents of students in the SEN school in Alay, Mount Lebanon, went on strike because the government was not supporting the school financially. They had the full right to go on strike because

    ; They are sending a rightful statement: the government obligation to support public

    schools in general and SEN individuals in particular.

    ; Their mission is righteous: epileptic patients have the right to be educated like all and

    their education be tailored according to their needs.

    ; SEN individuals should be recognized as part of this society and thus the ministry assign

    bigger budgets for schools that take care of them.

    The problem was not in claiming for a right that the society should stand up for and support; rather, it lied in the facts that

    1. The practitioners’ spontaneous actions that stemmed from their concern about

    those students being marginalized were not studied enough to make a case that

    gets Ministry’s support outside the government fiscal year.

    2. Students in that school were obviously not only epileptic patients, but also the

    mentally retarded among others. These cannot be put in one school without

    mainstreaming; they should be accommodated in SEN schools with specialized

    team of practitioners. This proves that

    a. The school practitioners do not have clear idea about diagnosing SEN

    children neither do they know how those students can be placed in

    classes and when they should be mainstreamed.

    b. The school does not know about the Association for Care of People with

    Epilepsy in Lebanon; consequently, they did not communicate or share

    their concerns with other parties to make their case stronger.

    c. There are many more epileptic patients than our Association has

    reached, and it seems there are many SEN cases in every single area in

    Lebanon.

    3. The school cannot be a decision maker when it comes to changing the school’s

    mission and recruitment policy. The school can claim for support only when they

    go through legal and proper channels.

    4. The school practitioners’ work with those students was “successful” not because

    practitioners were professional; rather, because they were empathetic with

    children, the thing that is truly needed in their case.

    5. Those practitioners obviously lacked knowledge about

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    a. The risks of having all types of SEN in one school without mainstreaming

    b. The risks of having all types of SEN in the same class

    c. What curriculum is suitable for each group of students

    d. The level of professionalism required from the team of teachers

    e. The minimum safety measures required

    f. The importance of school and classroom set up and facilities to teaching In conclusion, all of the above makes a case for my proposal to support a sublime cause:

     Establishing a non-profit school for Special Educational Needs (SEN) people in Lebanon and the region This project has been my target for some time because I have the land and the required qualifications and long experience, but will need support for the construction of that unique non-profit making school. Your support is not impossible because our interests intersect; you always support projects that are worthwhile, and I am qualified to handle the whole project. In fact, my heart grows bigger when I think that there is a hope that you contribute to making my humanitarian and charitable project a dream come true. My dream project aims to provide proper and tailored education for those victimized people to reach their full potentials and be truly independent and productive in their societies, help them regain the self-esteem they merit, ensure that they get their fair chances in the career market, and allow their educated mothers some release time from worrying about the safety of their children to pursue a career. If the project is implemented, we will break loose the chains of a vicious cycle. The school will be the first on the Lebanese territory and maybe in the region to address the needs of this harmless society. Based on research findings, when school setup is safe, curricula are suitable, and facilities available, the SEN School will address SEN students (the epileptic, ADHD, dyslexic, slow learners, sufferers from high test anxiety, and retarded) mentally, socially, psychologically and affectively alongside regular students. Those people need special attention without which their very existence is being challenged. For this, in their school,

    1. We can tailor curricula to avoid over stuffing them, and classroom set up to

    ensure proper education and safety.

    a. Classroom setup will be tailored to accommodate those students.

    b. Teachers will either be professionals or degree holders who will be

    trained to perform their tasks efficiently.

    c. The number of students in each classroom will be dictated by the subject

    being taught and the activity given. Accordingly, groups of students may

    be homogeneous or heterogeneous.

    2. We can also add Technical and Vocational training/practicum courses to the

    program so that SEN students gain new skills and become productive and later

    independent.

    3. Our objectives will be defined and posted on a website so our policy and work

    will be transparent, and we will be able to gain feedback and thus give more

    value to the program before taking new action.

    4. Our credibility will stem from our research-based findings and authenticity.

    5. Our programs will be modernized with programs (audio and online) and tools to

    make the best of students’ potentials, talents, and intelligences.

    6. We will open communication channels with parents, familiarize them with our

    work and how to communicate with their children if they if they show interest in

    being involved, and build trust with them so they would express what they really

    want for their children.

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    7. Of course, we will campaign the programs so that we reach more people, namely

    those who believe a SEN is a stigma. We will not monopolize work; rather, we

    will try to have partners (specialists and community activists) to spread our

    message far and wide and build relationships, be it through seminars.

    8. We will also post free content and good information to generate website visitors

    who will be part of our promotion partnership.

    9. In general, our work will focus on value, distinction, and services. We add value

    by bringing great curricula so people would love to join the program; we will make

    our work unique; we will show how we can serve the customer by doing good

    and make a difference by envisioning our near as well as farfetched goals and

    objectives.

    10. In the school, there will be an infirmary and all the needed medical support.

    11. Professionals in the medical field will be contracted to do the diagnosis,

    recommend follow-up procedures and be the school’s consultants.

    To be honest and tell the truth, establishing the school for SEN individuals is a great idea but not the best

    solution. In other words, viewing the project from a broader perspective, one can envision how planning

    for expanding the school works out perfectly. That is, since I have the land, we can enlarge the project to ; Start an elementary school alongside the non-profit making SEN school. This is important

    because SEN students need to merge with regular students for

    mainstreaming/Integration purposes so both learn from each other. Peer learning and

    vicarious learning will affect SEN students positively. In addition, regular students in the

    same school will make a new generation that is more open-minded, understanding and

    tolerant of SEN. time, when the regular school grows, income from that school will cover

    for the high cost of the SEN non-profit making school. Regular students will benefit from

    the special courses offered to SEN students (Technical and vocational Education courses,

    handcrafts, workshops, etc.).

    ; Since there are no such schools in the Middle East, we may add a boarding school. This

    will lead to creating not only cultural but also intercultural communication channels

    among students and practitioners as well.

    ; There should be a department to deal with addiction problems. Since most of epileptic

    individuals’ medicaments are addictive, it is important for the department team to address

    some serious issues like controlling the usage of addictive medicaments (when and how

    much to prescribe per specific individual) and explaining the risks of using those

    medicaments to parents, practitioners, and students alike. With more experience, this

    department may be enlarged to become a separate building for the purpose of treating

    people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction in society. It will be the first center for

    the big population of addicts in Lebanon.

    ; There should be a training center to provide in-service training to the school teachers and

    potential university graduates who are interested in teaching. Consequently, we

    guarantee that the school would always be up-to-date and would not run short of qualified

    and trained teachers.

    ; There should be a research center to

    ; Do in-school action research to assess the feasibility of curricula and implementation

    ; Assess the validity and reliability of all decisions

    ; Keep up with all the new developments in the medical field and medications;

    educational field and improved practices; addiction, treatment, and rehabilitation.

    In a nutshell, I am writing to see if it is possible to receive your financial support without which I cannot

    proceed to implement the only solution for SEN students who are stigmatized and marginalized. With

    your help, we can do wonders. Without it, all those patients will have to wait till the Lebanese Ministry of

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    Education sets such programs, the thing that we cannot envision in the short or even long term. If you decide to support the project, I will be ready to discuss with you all my relevant experience along with

    1. The timetable for the school construction, setting curricula, establishing a website, and launching

    the program.

    2. All the terms and conditions in your agreement.

    3. All your recommendations regarding the diagnosis of patients, locally and possibly regionally.

    4. All your suggestions regarding the management and evaluation of the program.

    NB. For a proof of ownership and qualification, I am willing to send copies of all the required documentation. I will also be pleased and enthusiastic if you like us to have a Skype conferencing session.

You are our only reference and source of support in hard times.

Thank you for your time, understanding and cooperation.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Respectfully yours,

Nahida Al Assi, Associate Professor

    A researcher, Program Developer, Teacher Trainer, Material Writer and Lecturer

Planning and Development committee

    Association for Care of People with Epilepsy in Lebanon

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