On May 8, 2019, Syed Ahsan Ali and Syed Maratib Ali School of Education (SOE) joined hands with Oasis School Trust through a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate outreach efforts by both organisations.
The event started with a welcome note by Mehreen Noon, Director Teaching and Learning Initiative, who introduced Ayesha Haroon, Founder Oasis and Samrina Anwar, Principal Oasis to the LUMS SOE faculty, staff and students.
Oasis is a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Established in 2010, it is situated in the Sharif Medical Complex, a suburban area in the south of Lahore. The school started as a small Montessori, and now boasts a state-of-the-art campus consisting of classrooms, facilities, equipment and playground tailored according to the needs of autistic students. Ayesha Haroon set up the school with the vision to enable autistic children in Pakistan to reach their potential and function as valued members of society within Pakistan.
Ms. Anwar shed light on the purpose of the school and elaborated that “The school is fighting against the stigmas attached to Autism, and is striving towards promoting acceptance of people who are different.”
Talking about the education provided in the school, she said, “Regression in autism takes minutes. Progression takes years. Each student needs an individual intervention plan. We provide relevant therapies to each student to maximise communication and learning.” Ms. Haroon added that intervention should be as early as possible for the child to progress.
Dr. Tahir Andrabi, Dean SOE stated, “In order for a real change in the community, parents and community also need to be mobilised. This can be done in the form of support groups for parents where they can share their experiences.”
As inclusive education becomes an integral part of learning in the SOE MPhil curriculum, the collaboration will foster research and learning for both organisations, and help in bridging the gap between theory and practice. The first step in this regard has already been taken when a group of MPhil students, interested in inclusive education, visited Aut.art, a creative initiative by Oasis School, which exhibits art made by autistic children as a means of self-expression. The initiative aims at removing stigma around autism by highlighting the achievements of autistic children.