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(Lebanese Association for Rehabilitation and Development)
Product: Special educational needs assessment kit
Product launch: 2008
Founder: Hoda Bibi
Taaheel was started in 2005, when Hoda Bibi – chair of the educational department at the Lebanese International University who holds a doctorate in educational counselling – became frustrated at the standardized tools of assessment in schools, which she felt were culturally inappropriate for the MENA region. After three years she and a team developed a battery of tests which can be used to assess children to identify special needs, a first crucial step before any assistance can be offered to the child in question, and subsequently develop an educational course of action. This was developed in tandem with training for teachers to administer these tests, which Bibi outlines as a ‘toolkit’ for educational professionals. This operates under the Lebanese Association for Rehabilitation and Development (Taaheel).
The battery enables testing the IQ, mental development, and emotional intelligence of the child, and deducing the academic achievement. Each domain outlined has tests and quantitative and qualitative tools to assess children, and Bibi’s target group is teachers who are working. As many students have learning difficulties, Taaheel’s tool kit enables teachers to assess a child with tools which are more appropriate to the cultural setting, to analyze the development of the child and with the results determine an individual education plan (IEP) for the child in question. The National Council for Scientific Research sponsored the most recent study in Lebanon in 2011-2012, and Bibi has subsequently been training and selling the kit.
Bibi’s intention is to have this tool in each and every school in the Arab world, so that “students will not be victimized, and will continue their education and succeed,” especially in communities which stigmatise those with special needs. In order to expand, she designed the kit with a flexible IEP output, so it can also devise relevant IEPs for highly gifted and talented children within the region who, she describes, so often are categorized with special needs. Indeed, she eyes all children with learning difficulties within the MENA region as the target group for this product, and the ministries of each relevant country is paying for the use of this kit.
Until now, around 15 schools in Saudi Arabia and 200 schools in Lebanon employ these tests, where country-specific curricula are observed and alterations are made so the tests cater to individuals in that country and are purchased by the schools for $1,000 per kit. There is a PR section within the Taaheel team, who markets the tool kit to customers, and the Ministry of Social Affairs in Lebanon has approved the tool for use. Taaheel is now moving into a new phase, however, with developer Ziad Mugraby implementing a new technological system to make the entire kit digital and take the battery of tests online, so that licensing and usage of the tool by practitioners is facilitated in the modern day. This new technological phase began at the end of 2013 and is due to be rolled out in 2016.