A Saudi schoolgirl with Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS), a genetic disorder characterized by deformities affecting the ears, eyes, cheekbones, and chin, was heartlessly expelled from school because of her physical appearance.
The mother of the young girl, now identified as Loulwa bint Mohammed Al Fareeh, explained how she was insulted by an employee responsible for student integration. The latter told her no teacher would accept her daughter's case "because she doesn't have eyes and ears." The teacher's statement and actions have caused emotional strain on both the girl and her family.
Loulwa does have eyes and ears, but they're deformed. The 3rd grader completed her previous school years in London, with no issues at all.
"My daughter has minor deformities in her eyes and ear but has no mental disabilities and graduated top of her class in a London school last year. The UK-based institution provided my daughter with everything she needed to fit in," Al Fareeh's mother said.
Al Fareeh was rejected from the academic institution after a two-day trial period. The girl was later not allowed to register for the current academic year, according to her mother. When asked why they made their decision, school officials told the mother her daughter's "appearance will terrify and scare classmates."
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh issued an urgent order to re-register the girl at a different school. Al Sheikh's decision came just days after the student's mother reported the expulsion to the kingdom's Ministry of Education and the Saudi Human Rights Committee.
According to the minister, the 3rd grader will not miss out on her school year and will be given a class spot without having to undergo an entrance exam, confirming his ministry is currently working on investigating the case further.
Saudis online were angered by this
News of the little girl's case went viral on the kingdom's Twitter, where thousands spoke out against the school's discriminatory decision. Many were angered by the entire incident, while others called on reforms to the entire Saudi school system that "rarely focuses on integration programs."
The majority of people were relieved when they heard of the action taken in the case, expressing happiness at the fact that Al Fareeh won't be denied one of her most basic of rights, the right to education.
"The deformity is in the minds of some mothers, teachers and specialists!"
"The deformity is in the minds of some mothers, teachers and specialists! A beautiful, smart child was going to be deprived of education because of your regressive rhetoric."
People were outraged
"This is one of several incidents affecting special kids who are different due to genetic diseases, physical deformities, physical/mental disabilities or Down Syndrome. The treatment they get is the result of the lack of clear rules that unconditionally grant everyone their right to education and doesn't leave it to the moodiness of a school headmaster or headmistress."
"People with disabilities need more attention from our government"
"People with disabilities need more attention from our government. Unfortunately, there aren't any governmental institutions or integration schools that are capable of advancing in education and training. So many parents travel to Dubai or Europe to find advanced centers for those with special needs. In Saudi Arabia, centers for autism, Down Syndrome and others are all based on individual initiatives."
Others thanked the Ministry of Education for taking action
"We thank the Minister of Education and the employees of the ministry and the human rights committee for quickly taking action in the case. But the school must be punished over this, especially since there's evidence of what they did."