Needs of Gifted Students Take Centre Stage



Improving the needs of gifted and talented students through the development of a tailored curriculum will be the main focus of the ‘International Conference on Special Education’, the first academic event of its kind presented by Abu Dhabi University (ADU).

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, the conference will host global and local speakers who will discuss how efforts can be made to modify the education system to include and provide support for gifted students. The two-day event will be held on 30-31 October at the university’s Abu Dhabi campus.

The International Conference on Special Education has been officially announced by Dr. Nabil Ibrahim, Chancellor of ADU; Kathleen Austrin, Inclusion Advisor, Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO); and Kmar Cherif, Events Manager of The Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi in a media conference.

“At the forefront of the vision of the UAE is the attainment of a sustainable economy that is well integrated into the global economy, and provides accessible opportunities for all its citizens and residents. Efforts at modernising management of the country’s economy must begin with enhancing its education sector,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “Our government has been addressing important issues from this sector, including the needs of students with advance capabilities and aptitudes.”

This conference aims to lay the foundation in formulating robust programmes and appropriate policies to significantly educate and enrich the intellectual, social and psychological abilities of gifted students.

“The conference will showcase a range of learning and educational experiences in the field of special education from local and international experts. This will ensure excellence on providing best practices which we can apply to the UAE education curriculum. We believe that fulfilling the full potential of students with exceptional abilities is a great responsibility which should be upheld by government, educators and parents,” he added.

The conference is organised by the Department of Education, College of Arts and Sciences. It targets teachers, academics, education advisors, government representatives and even parents for them to discuss topics such as the role of the government, schools and educational institutions in nurturing and supporting gifted students.

Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO) is an independent government organisation offering social and humanitarian services to people with special needs in Abu Dhabi Emirate in order to support and strengthen their position as active members of society.

Kathleen Austrin, Inclusion Advisor, of ZHO, explained “Excellence is seldom one philosophy; there is no single road to success. Inclusive cultures create a ‘safe place to be valued’ for each individual in the community and the notion of ‘value’ refers to assigning ‘full value’ to others rather than discounting them. Learning comes from sharing what we know with others and we from Zayed Higher Organisation are honoured to be an active part of the conference presented by Abu Dhabi University.”

This event will be a forum to address various issues, such as how to benchmark gifted students in mainstream classrooms; learning the importance of developing and investing in gifted and special needs programmes in UAE schools; and current inclusive gifted and talented models in UAE and Oman. Other topics, including building mathematics and science skills for academically talented students, assessing and developing early intervention programmes, evaluating special needs integration in mainstream classes, practical skills for teachers on gifted inclusion in classrooms, and integration of technology in gifted classes will also be addressed at the conference.

The Special Care Centre, founded in 1989, is one of the first specialised centres providing educational services for special needs children in the country. The centre currently cares for almost 70 children from various nationalities with hundreds of waiting on a list kids waiting to be accommodated by the centre.

“We are pleased to support and cooperate with Abu Dhabi University to produce this special conference on talented children. This forum will help us in discovering ways to determine and build skills of gifted kids. It will also allow us to develop an academic curriculum specialised to developing and capitalising talented special needs children across UAE schools,” said Kmar Cherif, Events Manager of The Special Care Centre.

The International Conference on Special Education is supported by The Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi and the Future Centre for Special Needs. For more information about the event, please visit


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