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Bilquis Foundation campaigns for dyslexia awareness.

SANA'A, Mar. 2 -- Two parent-teacher dyslexia awareness courses have been initiated by the Belquis Development Foundation (BDF) at two different schools in Sana'a. The courses, undertaken to raise awareness about the condition, "C*educated participants on the concept, causes, symptoms and treatment methods of dyslexia," said Hana'a al-Aqil, education officer at BDF. Dyslexia is a learning disability that "impairs a person's fluency or accuracy in being able to read, speak, and spell". Al-Aqil said that their plan was designed to cover 50 schools -- at a rate of two per week -- followed by a field survey of schools in Sana'a in coordination with the Ministry of Education. She added that the second course was specifically geared towards teachers. During this course, 25 teachers learned various methods best suited to the instruction of dyslexic children. Ms. Sabah, headmistress of Al-Izz school, said she had never heard about dyslexia before the courses, but now, thanks to Hana'a and her dedicated awareness raising, more teachers are equipped with methods to better educate their students. "We invited Hana'a to the school," explained Sabah, "to benefit from her experience and understand the concept even further. We also invited some of the pupils' mothers and all the teaching staff was present during the course. BDF distributed brochures and lectured on this disorder and how to deal with dyslexic children." Sabah indicated that educators are now responding positively to the course by changing their teaching methods when dealing with children who suffer from this learning disorder. In the past, special consideration was rarely given to the education of dyslexic children. Ms. Angela, an English teacher at Al-Izz school, said that the course had taught things about dyslexia they had not previously been aware of, as well as ways to look after children with this reading and writing disorder. During the course, teachers learned how to interact with children with learning difficulties and were instructed on how to give them adequate time when writing. The problem for many dyslexic children is connecting mental processes with the visual and auditory senses. As such, parents and teachers were advised to associate the letter "D" with the picture of a door, as a means to embed it in the dyslexic student's subconscious. During the course, BDF made some recommendations to the teachers, such as focusing on the strength of dyslexic learners (e.g. if the pupil likes painting, the teachers should take that into consideration when teaching him or her), giving the pupils enough time to copy the lessons from the blackboard and concentrating on visual communication -- associating everything that is taught with a corresponding picture. "Before the course," said Angela, "I used to reprimand my pupils harshly. I would attribute their educational weakness to the negligence of their parents or former teachers. But now I've changed my attitude completely." Mrs. Hana'a, mother of Al-Izz sixth-grader Haia, said she had suffered with her daughter for three years. She used to punish the girl for not understanding her lessons, as well as for her slow writing. Her teachers often acted in a similar way and kept telling Haia's mother that her daughter had always been an absent-minded and slow learner, implying that she was stupid. They had even refused to give her daughter extra time to finish copying lessons from the board, saying they would not have wasted class time for the sake of Haia. Hana'a praised the role played by BDF. "When I attended the course and listened to Ms. al-Aqil, I learned what dyslexia was. It was as if she was talking specifically about my daughter Haia," she said. She recalled how her daughter used to memorize her lessons at home and whenever she had an exam, the results were invariably disappointing. "One of the reasons for Haia's poor performance was that the teachers were letting my daughter down," said Hana'a, "Her reaction was to break her pencils and to crumple erasers. This was a way to show her hatred for studying, because her teachers did not understand her problem." She said that her daughter's situation has improved since the BDF's recommendations to the teachers, such as increasing the marks of dyslexic pupils to encourage them, and refraining from shouting at them. "My daughter received 60 points out of 60 on her latest English test," said Hana'a.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Mar 3, 2011
Words:730
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