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What’s “Special” about Special Education Policy? The Politics of Perception in Egypt

Global Education Colloquium

January 12, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm 

Alia Ammar
PhD Candidate, Drexel University School of Education 

Special education is a relatively new field in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. As such, there are widely divergent definitions, policies and programs designed to address education for children with disabilities. Egypt provides an interesting case to examine what happens when special education comes to mean different things to diverse stakeholders such as policymakers, educators and parents, and the role context plays during implementation. This presentation introduces the different laws pertaining to the education of differently-abled students in Egypt, and examines how perceptions of those laws impact implementation, particularly at the school level. Data was collected over a three-month period in two phases (phase one: survey specifically designed for this study; phase two: participant interviews) and contextualized through personal experience as a school-level teacher in Egypt for six years. Findings illuminate special education policy as a contested site of struggle. As different stakeholders work to control what it means to provide inclusive education to Egyptian citizens, they reframe special education policy to fit their own particular interests.

Alia A. Ammar is a PhD Candidate in Drexel’s School of Education. She is passionate about education, equity, and English Language and Literature teaching. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in English Literature (2007) and an M.A. in International and Comparative Education with a concentration in international education development and policy (2014) from the American University in Cairo. Her research interests include equitable special education policy, literacy and reading comprehension, learning disabilities, and program evaluation. The focus of her dissertation is on special education policy in Egypt. She enjoys using an international comparative framework, when appropriate, in her projects.