Research into North Africa, Egypt and Jordan provided several resources into the cultural background which includes religion and traditions, views of disabilities, and lack of health care. Discrimination of disabilities speaks loud and clear as to the need for change, training and resources in these areas. There is need for training of special education teachers, licensing of teachers and Orientation and Mobility specialist, however there is not enough services and or individuals to provide services needed to meet the increasing population of disabilities.
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According to Muyingi (2015), The African population is losing their identity and has over the last 5 centuries. Their identity is based on truths and religious tradition passed down through generations. This has been challenged with the influx of Western missionaries, and technologies. African generations have passed on their beliefs that guide their social interaction, their cultural beliefs; their functional life is guided by this internal belief system that this writer referred to as African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR has been uprooted due to negative feedback from missionaries saying that it is based on which craft, magic, and sorcery. This new influx of religion is based on Christianity and Islam. In a case study by Haddad (2000) on 2 villages in Jordan, (an Islamic state), made up 2 religious’ groups: Christianity (includes Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic), and Muslim showed the difference in how each group functioned. Both groups refer to themselves as Jordanian Arabs, Jordanian Christian Arabs and/or Palestinians (based on where they were originated from). Some of the interesting traditions between the groups include the rules of how they dress and how they participated in marriage. Christians based their guidelines on their church’s philosophy – some churches allowed women to wear shorts, and both men and women to participate in the use of alcohol. A Christian man can marry a Muslim with the understanding that he must convert and follow the Mosque guidelines, whereas the Muslims are not allowed alcohol, Women were expected to cover their bodies and faces (with a veil), and a man would never marry a Christian Woman – it’s not allowed. Each group stays within its own, however if someone needed help; the community comes together regardless of what they believe.
In the article by Haddad (2000), Families are responsible for the needs of their children until they reach an age of independence and can support themselves. The government does not have funds to assist family with any medical needs. Most individuals with disabilities do not have access to services through special education. The attitudes towards disabilities are looked upon as shameful and embarrassing. Due to attitudes, not only by the parents but the general society, these individuals are prevented from services and the families have a very hard time leading a normal life (Hadidi, 2015). Individuals with disabilities are either institutionalized or hidden in homes (Hadidi 2015).
Services starting emerging from 1960 – 1990, initially only serving 4 main disability groups that included visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual and physical disabilities and these services were provided by private volunteers through ministries of social and/or charity work (Hadidi 2015). Initially it was provided through social services not through special education. In a study on kindergarten teacher beliefs, (Abu-Jaber, Al-Shawareb and Gheit, 2010) early childhood education is new to Jordanians. The minister of education, (in this report), placed a high priority on early education of children, age 2 – 8. Areas included kindergarten, special needs and family along with licensing standards for teachers. However, most of the kindergartens were privately owned, making it financially unreachable for poor families. According to Wiener, Welsh & Blasch (2010, pp. 558-561) a few Kindergarten instructors in Jordan were trained in pre-cane skills, in order to provide training to children as they enter the school system. They are working on integrating the skills in education and Orientation and Mobility is becoming a requirement in specific special educational environments. There have also been a few people in Egypt that have been trained by instructors from Jordon. However, Egypt does not have a large training of O&M professionals and they are unable to provide services for the many families that live in poverty and the high percentages of blindness due to close interfamily relationships (Wiener, Welsh & Blasch, 2010, pp.558-561).
In a study by Gobrial (2012) in Egypt, on the rights of children with intellectual disabilities; most children with disabilities are discriminated, excluded and lack access to health care, education and the rights provided their peers. This article points out that there was an increase in intellectual disabilities from 2002 through 2008; an increase of 6 million people diagnosed with intellectual disabilities. Following a revolution in Egypt (in 2011), the people were more involved in requesting rights and needs. The UN and the Ministry of Education claimed the need for human rights of children, and the Ministry of Education presented a resolution #154 for improvement in educational needs, however based on the survey questions provided, a high number of participants were unaware of the children’s rights, and indicated that the government disregarded rights of these children and did not do anything to provide protection to the children or their families (Gobrial 2012). There is a high need for preventative procedures for blindness in Jordan. In a study of 1400 plus individuals which included 424 cases under the age of 16 and 998 cases in adults were blind due to lack of care, medical follow up and genetic disorders. This study showed blindness was due to multiple reasons with the top 3 areas for adults including Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic retinopathy and Glaucoma and the top 3 areas for children included congenital globe malformations, retinopathy of prematurity and Retinal dystrophies (Baarah, Shatnawi & Khatatbeh – May 2018).
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There is limited services, rehabilitation or resources available due to poverty, and the high need of services. Most areas do not allow for independent travel and there are no white cane or traffic laws to provide protection. (Wiener, Welsh, & Blasch, 2010, pp. 558-561). There are not enough trained individuals to serve this population. According to Abu-Jaber, Al-Shawareb and Gheit (April 2010), the minister of education is working with the Jordanian university to help with training and obtaining educators for children programs. With the limited resources, and several barriers existing in Africa, the introduction and need of Orientation and mobility, exist, however the environment is not developed for independent travel in the areas of North Africa, Jordan and Egypt (Wiener, W. R., Welsh, R. L., & Blasch, B. B. 2010).
- Abu-Jaber, M., Al-Shawareb, A., & Gheith, E. (2010). Kindergarten Teachers’ Beliefs Toward Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Jordan. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38(1), 65-74. Retrieved July 23, 2019 from https://doi-org.smithpubliclibrary.idm.ocic.org/10.1007/s10643-010-0379-z
- Baarah, B. T., Shatnawi, R.A., & Khatatbeh, A.E. (2018). Causes of Permanent Severe Visual Impairment and Blindness among Jordanian Population. Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, 25(1), 25-29. Retrieved July 23, 2019 from https://doi-org.smithpubliclibrary.idm.oclc.org/10.4103/meajo.MEAJO_202_16
- Gobrial, E. (2012). Mind the gap: The human rights of children with intellectual disabilities in Egypt. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56(11), 1058-1064. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01650.x
- Haddad, M. (2000). Christian Identity in the Jordanian Arab Culture: A Case Study of Two Communities in North Jordan. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 20(1), 137-146. Retrieved July 23, 2019 from https://doi-org.smithpubliclibrary.idm.ocic.org/10.1080/13602000050008951
- Hadidi, M.S., & Al Khateeb, J. M. (2015). Special Education in Arab Countries: Current challenges. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 62(5), 518-530, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2015.1049127
- Muyingi, M. A. (2015). African Traditional Religion: A New Struggle for African Identity [Abstract]. Asia Journal of Theology, 29(1), 88-98. Retrieved July 23, 2019, from http://search.ebscohost.com.smithpubliclibrary.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=102649558&site=ehost-live
- Waghid, Y., Davids, N (2014). On the (Im)Possibility of Democratic Citizenship Education in the Arab and Muslim World. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 33(3), 343-351. Retrieved July 26, 2019 from http://search.ebscohost.com.smithpubliclibrary.idm.ocic.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1039412&site=ehost-live
- Wiener, W. R., Welsh, R. L., & Blasch, B. B. (2010). Chapter 15. In Foundations of Orientation and Mobility (3rd ed., Vol. 1, History and Theory, pp. 558-561). New York, NY: AFB Press.
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