Bacaan selawat ibu bantu kejayaan pelajar OKU

KUALA LUMPUR 19 Mac – Diusap di kepala dengan iringan selawat oleh ibunya setiap kali ke sekolah menjadi rahsia kejayaan seorang calon Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) yang juga orang kurang upaya (OKU) cacat penglihatan, Mohamad Fairus Azmi, 21.

Ibunya, Salbiah Sakrani, 56, berkata, beliau bangga kerana anak keempat daripada enam beradik itu tidak menjadikan kekurangan tersebut sebagai ‘jalan mati’ untuk meraih kecemerlangan akademik.

“Saya akan usap kepala Mohamad Fairus sambil berselawat ke atas junjungan besar Nabi Muhammad SAW dan mendoakan kejayaan agar memperoleh keberkatan-Nya.

“Saya memanjatkan rasa syukur, walaupun dia buta mata tetapi hatinya celik dalam mengejar peluang sehingga dapat menikmati kejayaan sama seperti insan lain,” katanya ketika ditemui dalam majlis Anugerah Pelajar Cemerlang STPM 2013 di sini hari ini.

Fairus yang menduduki STPM di Sekolah Menengah Tunku Abdul Malik, Alor Setar, Kedah dinobatkan sebagai pelajar istimewa cemerlang kategori buta dengan memperoleh 4A dalam mata pelajaran Pengajian Am, Kesusasteraan Melayu Komunikatif, Syariah dan Sejarah.

Menceritakan detik pahit bagaimana Fairus mengalami kecacatan, Salbiah berkata, anak istimewanya itu kemalangan sewaktu berusia lapan tahun.

“Matanya rosak setelah terjatuh dan terkena besi buaian sehingga menyebabkan penglihatan dia gelap selamanya,” kata Salbiah yang menetap di Taman Arked, Sungai Petani.

Sementara itu, Fairus sewaktu berkongsi formula kejayaannya berkata, status OKU tidak sepatutnya dijadikan halangan untuk berjaya sebaliknya perlu bersyukur kerana keluarga dan rakan-rakan banyak memberi sokongan.

“Saya menetap di asrama dan rakan-rakan yang menjadi ‘mata’ saya dalam membantu pembelajaran mahupun perbincangan.

“Saya ingin menjadi seorang guru pendidikan khas dan mahu membantu serta mendokong mereka yang senasib agar menjadi insan berguna suatu hari kelak,” katanya.

Artikel Penuh: http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Pendidikan/20140320/pe_02/Bacaan-selawat-ibu-bantu-kejayaan-pelajar-OKU#ixzz2wSGsNNB0
© Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd

Peserta buta johan 3 kali kategori tilawah MTQSS

KUALA LUMPUR 27 Mei – Cacat penglihatan tidak menghalang Mohd. Qayyim Sarimin, 14, untuk merangkul johan buat kali ketiga berturut-turut kategori tilawah Al-Quran pada Majlis Tadarus Al-Quran Sekolah-Sekolah (MTQSS) Peringkat Kebangsaan 2013.

Mohd. Qayyim yang cacat penglihatan sejak lahir mewakili negeri Kelantan mencatat kejayaan bermakna itu sejak menyertai program tahunan itu pada tahun 2010.

Pelajar tingkatan dua Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Melor, Kota Bharu itu ketika ditemui pemberita berkata, dia mula belajar taranum sejak berusia sembilan tahun menggunakan Al-Quran braile yang dihadiahkan Allahyarham guru agamanya.

“Saya memang meminati bacaan al-Quran sejak kecil dan tidak pernah menjadikan kecacatan saya sebagai penghalang untuk bergelar qari suatu hari nanti.

“Saya tidak ada masalah untuk belajar menggunakan bahan braile dan mengasah suara dengan mengalunkan azan Subuh setiap hari sejak usia sembilan tahun,” katanya.

Katanya, dia mahu menjadi ikon kepada pelajar senasib dengannya agar mereka tidak menjadikan kekurangan diri sebagai penghalang kejayaan.

Mohd. Qayyim kini belajar di bawah bimbingan gurunya Fauzi Awang, 48, yang juga guru di Sekolah Kebangsaan Sultan Ismail III Kota Bharu sejak enam tahun lepas.

Menurut Fauzi, Mohd. Qayyim seorang pelajar yang mempunyai daya ingatan luar biasa menjadikan beliau cepat menangkap pengajarannya.

Mohd Qayyim muncul juara apabila mengutip 91 markah, diikuti naib johan Muhammad Asyraf Hairam Tuan Rosli dari Selangor dengan 87.5 markah dan Muhamad Ridzuan Mat Zakir dari Perak di tempat ketiga dengan 86 markah.

MTQSS 2013 diadakan sejak 24 Mei lalu disertai oleh 240 peserta dari 15 kontinjen sekolah rendah dan menengah seluruh negara.

Kontinjen negeri Selangor mengungguli program kali ini apabila dinobat johan keseluruhan diikuti negeri Perak dan ketiga Kelantan. – BERNAMA

Artikel Penuh: http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Dalam_Negeri/20130527/dn_01/Peserta-buta-johan-3-kali-kategori-tilawah-MTQSS#ixzz2URpVQ9jL
© Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd

Too many special children left out

Out of the 34,268 people with disabilities (OKU) recorded in the state, only 3,195 are enrolled in schools providing special classes (Pendidikan Khas) as of February this year.
And currently, 2,048 are studying in 106 primary schools (348 classes) while 1,147 are in 46 secondary schools (174 classes) across the state, said Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.
“Children with disabilities also have their basic rights to proper education,” she pointed out during the launch of the Sinar 1Malaysia Community Rehabilitation Centre (PDK) at Bandar Baru Semariang here yesterday.
Fatimah also said her ministry had written to the Ministry of Education last year to set up a special vocational school for the disabled in the state to enhance their chances of securing employment.
“There are two in Semenanjung Malaysia and it is about time we have one in Sarawak and Sabah,” she said.
Fatimah told parents that once their child has been confirmed to be disabled and requires special needs by a doctor, they should register him or her with the Welfare Department or the nearest PDK to enable the child learn basic skills such as grooming; toilet training and motor training.
“They would also learn how to socialise and interact with one another,” said the Dalat assemblywoman, adding that parents would also gain from PDKs through support groups.
“We have five new PDKs this year, taking the total number to 38 in Sarawak,” she elaborated.
Fatimah also urged the state’s local authorities to provide more facilities for the disabled, such as user-friendly public transport and special lanes.

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Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2013/04/03/too-many-special-children-left-out/#ixzz2PLradGRG

S’wak education department sets up 1,399 pre-school classes for 2013

Posted on January 3, 2013, Thursday

KUCHING:  A total of 1,399 pre-school classes have been created in Sarawak for the new school session this year, says state Education director Abdillah Adam.

He said, of the total, 1,391 classes were set up at 1,075 primary schools and two secondary schools while eight were at four Teachers Training Institutes and four Special Education National Schools.

“The classes contain 34,975 pupils, aged four to six, a hike of 16 classes this year, indicating Sarawak is serious in realising the Education Ministry’s aspiration on early education,” he said, here, yesterday.

On primary education, he said 1,263 primary schools would be operational during the school session this year.

“Of the total, 1,031 were national schools, 220 national type schools, eight Government Aided Religious Schools (SABK) and four Special Education National Schools. The enrollment of primary one to six is 252,343 including 2,153 special education pupils at Integration Special Education Programs and 182 pupils at SABK.

“Of the total, 185,529 pupils were from national schools and 66,814 from national type Chinese schools. Furthermore, an estimated 38,528 children would start their formal education in year one this year,” he said.

Abdullah said, for secondary school education, 185 schools were approved by the central agency to be operational this year.

“The enrolment at normal national secondary schools is 219,940 including 1,120 special education students. A total 3,958 students will start schooling in remove classes and 44,277 in form one,” he added. — Bernama

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2013/01/03/swak-education-department-sets-up-1399-pre-school-classes-for-2013/#ixzz2Gs8Sgsth

Pusat kreatif anak autisme

29 Disember 2012, Sabtu

Oleh RABIATUL ADAWIYAH KOH ABDULLAH
adawiyah.koh@utusan.com.my

Pusat ini memberi harapan baru buat kanak-kanak autisme.

SEMASA umur Wan Mei (bukan nama sebenar) mencecah 2 tahun, kanak-kanak tersebut didapati masih tidak boleh bercakap mahupun memberi tindak balas apabila namanya dipanggil. Dia hanya terpaku menghadap siaran iklan di televisyen.

Ibunya mengesyaki ada sesuatu yang tidak kena dengan anaknya.

Selepas puas melayari Internet, akhirnya ibunya merumuskan anaknya itu menghidap autisme.

Meskipun sudah berdekad lamanya autisme dikesan di seluruh dunia, ramai yang masih tidak tahu tentang simptom penyakit tersebut.

Ini bukan satu senario baru kerana masih ramai lagi ibu bapa seperti ibu Wan Mei yang tidak tahu mengenai autisme.

Dalam hal ini, ibu bapa yang diuji dengan anak-anak autisme perlu memastikan masa depan anak-anak mereka terbela.

Ramai ibu bapa yang masih tidak sedar sikap anak-anak mereka.

Ada sesetengah kanak-kanak bermain seperti berada di dalam dunianya sendiri. Ada pula yang mendiamkan diri, cepat mengamuk dan terlalu aktif. Apabila berbual, mata mereka akan menoleh ke arah lain dan bukannya kepada si penutur.

Sekiranya anda mempunyai anak yang bersikap sedemikian, anda perlu sedar ada kemungkinan anak ini menghidap autisme.

Sebenarnya, ada banyak tanda lain yang boleh diperhatikan pada anak-anak autisme ini. Sebab itulah, ibu bapa seharusnya memerhatikan sindrom autisme ini. Sindrom ini akan dibawa sehingga dewasa sekiranya ibu bapa tidak memberikan rawatan awal.

Walaupun sehingga kini punca autisme masih tidak jelas, orang ramai perlu tahu bahawa autisme bukanlah penyakit yang berjangkit.

Menyedari keadaan ini, Drypers dengan kerjasama Persatuan Kebangsaan Autisme Malaysia (NASOM) membuka Pusat Khidmat Setempat NASOM di Setia Alam, Selangor.

Pusat ini berperanan menjalankan proses penilaian autisme termasuk perkhidmatan pemeriksaan, penilaian dan diagnosis untuk pelbagai kategori penyakit autisme bagi kanak-kanak.

Masa hadapan

Menurut Setiausaha Lembaga Pengarah Pengurusan NASOM, Cason Ong, dengan setiap satu daripada 88 kanak-kanak yang dilahirkan mengalami autisme, adalah penting agar ibu bapa diberikan maklumat jelas tentang autisme.

“Maklumat ini membolehkan mereka membuat diagnosis, penilaian serta mengambil tindakan tepat seawal yang mungkin, agar anak-anak mereka dapat menjalani kehidupan yang hampir normal pada masa hadapan.

“Pada peringkat inilah penilaian awal amat penting bagi memastikan bahawa mereka mendapat sokongan yang sewajarnya,” ujarnya pada majlis pelancaran pusat tersebut baru-baru ini.

Dalam pada itu, Pengurus Kanan Pemasaran SCA Hygiene Malaysia, Evelyn Chan berkata, Drypers berhasrat melibatkan serta memberi inspirasi kepada ibu bapa melalui pelbagai kaedah lain yang melangkaui hanya sekadar pemakaian lampin.

“Kami percaya bahawa kami berada pada kedudukan yang membolehkan kami menghulurkan bantuan kepada NASOM untuk meningkatkan kesedaran mengenai penyakit ini. Selain itu, kami berharap pusat ini dapat menjadi platform membantu mengetengahkan bakat kanak-kanak autisme. Ini penting untuk memberi mereka harapan hidup seperti kanak-kanak normal lain,” ujarnya.

Drypers turut melancarkan mural dinding yang dipenuhi dengan ucapan selamat dan mesej berinspirasi yang mempamerkan sokongan sepenuh hati kepada semua pengunjung ke pusat tersebut. Luahan tersebut diambil daripada ahli Facebook Drypers dan orang awam.

Artikel Penuh: http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Keluarga/20121230/ke_04/Pusat-kreatif-anak-autisme#ixzz2GmAH2gL7
© Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd

Helping gifted children

Sunday December 16, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/12/16/education/12391292&sec=education

By VALENTINE CAWLEY

 

Skinner during an informal discussion with participants. She spoke of the iPad, as an educational enrichment tool for the gifted as it offers a rich learning experience.Skinner during an informal discussion with participants. She spoke of the iPad, as an educational enrichment tool for the gifted as it offers a rich learning experience.

The recent Gifted Education Conference 2012 brought together experts, parents and interested parties to share views on how best to approach the subject of ‘giftedness’.

THERE are many kinds of minorities with special educational needs. There are the autistic children, who comprise almost 1% of Malaysian children; those with developmental abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome; and those whose IQs are too low to function adequately in mainstream schools. There are also children who are blind or deaf.

Most societies understand the necessity of addressing their needs, and do so. Yet, there is one minority that is often forgotten, amongst all the others clamouring for attention: the gifted. In most countries, the fact that the gifted have special needs goes unrecognised, and too little is done to give these children the opportunity to reach for their best, for the benefit of us all.

The first step to addressing a special need, is first to recognise it and understand it. This depends upon raising awareness of the particular needs of the gifted.

To do so, the National Associa-tion for Gifted Children, Malaysia (NACGM) and the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) have formed an alliance to support the gifted children of Malaysia and to educate the public about what they can do to help gifted children. This collaboration resulted in the Gifted Education Conference 2012, held last month at the school, subtitled: “Building connections, enabling giftedness.”

At the conference, the invited speakers sought to educate the attendees about how to best approach the matter of giftedness and help their children grow to their fullest.

The main panel discussion for the day was entitled: “Should the gifted receive special educational provisions?”

Sitting on the panel were Zuhairah Ali, president of the NAGCM; Kylie Booker, head of the Middle School at AISM, Florence Wong, mother of six-year-old art prodigy, Reese Matthew Kam; and myself, Valentine Cawley, father of 12-year-old scientific child prodigy, Ainan Celeste Cawley.

I opened the panel discussion with an argument that special education for the gifted should be a basic right — just as special education is for disabled children, since both have special needs, which must be met if the child is to achieve its best.

No one on the panel disagreed with me – and the audience gave the speech a rousing applause, so it looked like my idea was widely supported by those interested in the gifted. The panel then went on to discuss the various ways these special needs could be met.

The debate was lively, since the experiences of each panel member were often different and so too, were their views.

Home-schooling

Florence Wong argued that home-schooling gave her the freedom to teach her artistically-inclined son, Reese, in a way that was best suited to him. She revealed that he would spend hours drawing each day. She noted that, if he had been in an ordinary school, he would not have had the time to develop his talent to the same degree.

Kylie Booker countered this. She observed that while home-schooling was working for Reese, she had personally met many home-schoolers who seemed to have been poorly educated.

It was clear to her that many parents were not ready to take on educating a child. Kylie argued that most children would be better off in a formal school setting, unless their parents were particularly well prepared to take on their education properly.

Educational acceleration was mooted as another means of meeting the special needs of gifted children. Both Kylie and I agreed that whether it was appropriate would depend on the individual situation and maturity of each child, though Kylie seemed to be more inclined to deploy differentiated curriculum approaches, in a same age setting, as a primary measure.

I pointed out that my son, Ainan, was much happier at Taylor’s Univ-ersity, than he had ever been at primary school.

It seems strange to say it, but our 12-year-old is much happier being educated with older people, than he ever was with his own age group. What had been lacking was mental stimulation – but acceleration has made up for that.

The audience had before them three options to help educate their gifted children: acceleration, homeschooling, and formal schooling from a school that supports gifted education like AISM. At this point, I proposed the ideal solution: acceleration without acceleration.

By this I meant that there should be a special school, in which gifted children could study an appropriately high level of material – including tertiary level – whilst being surrounded by children of their own age. There is such a school called the Davidson Academy, in Reno, Nevada, for profoundly gifted children.

I closed my discussion by expressing the hope that Malaysia too would have such a school one day, where the nation’s brightest children could study at a stimulating level, whilst enjoying all the social advantages of being with other young children. Were Malay-sia to establish one, it would be at the leading edge of gifted education provision in the region.

The rest of the conference consisted of workshops.

Kylie’s presentation, “The right book for the right child at the right time”, addressed the question of how to nurture the interests of gifted readers (and readers in general).

Kylie drew an important distinction, however, between “gifted reader” and gifted child.

In her view, only about 70% of gifted readers were actually gifted. She highlighted the problem of gifted readers losing interest in school, because they were not being given access to appropriate reading materials.

On the other hand, she also raised the issue of young readers who simply read TOO much – and had to be stopped from doing so, to encourage them to develop social and physical skills too.

Identifying talent

Jane Kilpatrick’s talk, “Identifying gifted and talented children”, introduced the three primary ways that gifted children may be identified: standardised intelligence testing, teacher nomination, and parental nomination.

The latter two had drawbacks in that not all teachers were aware of what to look for, in gifted children – and not all parents are objective about their children’s abilities. Yet, a combination of these measures would have the best chance of spotting a gifted child.

Lalitha Nair’s talk, “Facilitating teaching and learning for the gifted: a pragmatic local approach”, introduced ways that parents could meet the needs of gifted children in their home or other local environments. She also offered the Future Problem Solving Programme, as a way to stimulate gifted young minds.

Susie Skinner’s presentation, “Enhancing learning through the use of mobile devices”, outlined the use of the iPad as an educational enrichment tool for the gifted. She surveyed the wide range of educational apps available for the iPad, which offer a rich learning experience to any child.

The powerpoints for all the talks are available for download on the Gifted Education Conference 2012 Facebook page set up by AISM.

There were also booths on behalf of organisations with a gifted orientation, including MENSA and the NAGCM among others.

The conference clearly addressed a national need, that is deeply felt by some, since attendees came from as far as Penang and Kuching. The collaboration between the NAGCM and AISM is intended to be a long-term one, and there shall be many more conferences, in years to come, to educate the public on how to raise gifted children to be their best.

The writer is a psychology researcher focusing on giftedness. He is also chairman of the Research Committee of the National Association for Gifted Children, Malaysia (NAGCM). He is a graduate in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and has had a lifelong interest in giftedness. He keeps a blog on giftedness at 
scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com.

Let’s walk the talk for special kids

Sunday December 16, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/12/16/education/12259166&sec=education

By DR LOW HUI MIN

The authorities should be serious if they want to move towards advocating inclusive education especially for children with learning disabilities.

MANY children with special learning needs require speech and language therapy from an early age. They generally receive this service from speech-language pathologists, either in hospitals or in private practices.

Although the provision of speech-language services in schools is common in most developed countries, this service, unfortunately, has yet to be made available in Malaysian schools.

Therefore, this area of remediation, though crucial, remains inaccessible to many children in need of it.

Developmental and learning disabilities in children are common. Evidence from worldwide reports show that about 16% to 33% of children have at least one form of special learning needs.

McLeod and McKinnon from Charles Sturt University in Australia compared the prevalence of communication disorders with other learning needs in 14,500 primary and secondary school students.

They found that the majority of students with special learning needs are struggling in the area of speech, language and communication.

Their statistics show that 19% of the students have dyslexia, 12% have communication impairment and 6% have difficulties learning English or other languages as their second language.

Altogether, these figures yield an alarming 37% of students with speech, language and communication difficulties.

This figure is compelling, as compared to the other forms of special learning requirements: behavioural/emotional difficulty (6%), early achiever/advanced achiever (6%), physical/medical disability (1%), intellectual disability (1%), hearing impairment (1%) and visual impairment (0.5%).

Besides that, the prevalence of developmental and learning disabilities has been reported as “increasing” over the years. According to an American national report released in a prominent scientific journal,Pediatrics (2011), the prevalence of development disabilities has increased from 12.84% to 15.04% over the past 12 years.

In the past 10 years, Malaysia has also experienced a notable shift in the prevalence for students with special educational needs.

The Special Education Department in the Education Ministry reported that in 1999, there were 6,433 students who received special education services in primary schools and 2,627 students in secondary schools.

In 2009, the number had increased six-fold to 21,775 special education students in primary schools and 13,864 students in secondary schools.

Given this alarming shift, there is an urgent need to critically assess the current special education situation in Malaysia especially its capabilities and potential to serve the increasing population of students with special needs.

This is particularly for those who struggle to use speech, language and communication on a daily basis.

Speech and language therapy

Studies have shown that children with learning difficulties could benefit substantially from early identification and remediation of their learning difficulties.

One aspect of remediation that is essentially required by them is speech and language therapy.

Others include occupational therapy, behavioural intervention and medical treatment according to individual needs.

Speech and language therapy is crucial as many children with learning difficulties experience delay in speech and language development.

Some of them, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) also experience atypical use of gestural communication, lack of eye contact and turn-taking skills, echolalia (repetition of words without accessing to the meanings), hyperlexic (intense fascination with letters and numbers) and use of idiosyncratic language (unusual word choices or sentence structures).

Furthermore, many children remain mute or non-verbal, and they need to be trained to use alternative methods to communicate, such as pictures, symbols or gestures.

Speech and language therapy is therefore important to help these children to acquire language and communication skills in the presence of the individual learning challenges that they have.

In Malaysia and many other countries, speech and language therapy is provided by clinically trained professionals, known as speech-language pathologists or speech-language therapists.

This group of professionals is trained at either the undergraduate or postgraduate level to diagnose speech and language delay or disorders and to provide remedial services to those with such difficulties.

Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia are the two universities in Malaysia that have produced graduates in this area.

These graduates work predominantly in general hospitals, private medical centres, early intervention centres or in their own private practices.

So far, very few graduates have worked in schools or with the Education Ministry.

One primary reason is that previously there were no permanent positions available for this profession in schools or in the ministry.

Furthermore, the biggest setback is a special requirement set by the ministry, where the graduates are required to obtain a one-year diploma course in teaching in order to qualify as speech-language pathologists in schools.

This requirement is almost similar to requesting an electrical engineer who applies to this position in a hospital to do a one-year medical diploma.

This working package obviously becomes less attractive to graduates who had just completed an intensive four-year coursework and clinical undergraduate programme in university and who are eager to start serving the community.

The question raised here is whether there could have been other strategies to make speech-language therapy services more accessible to students in schools?

First, it is important to recognise that speech-language pathologists play specialised roles in schools and they are not there to replace the teachers. Speech-language pathologists are needed in schools to assist students with difficulties in speech, language and communication to deal with their deficit areas so that they have better school learning experiences.

Their responsibilities will be to identify the students’ issues in these areas, help teachers to develop a mode for the students to communicate in the classes, provide periodical assessment to monitor the students’ progresses and provide direct speech and language remediation as a way to work on their deficit areas.

Speech language therapy services in schools function to address the students’ special needs, which teachers would not be able to specifically focus on due to their whole-class teaching responsibilities.

Thus, speech-language therapy services need to be made available in schools to students with special needs to fill up their learning gaps.

Second, it is equally important to understand that speech-language pathologists would not be able to replace any regular teacher or to take over their roles, and vice versa.

This is in line with point one that speech-language pathologists are trained with highly fine-grained skills which they are qualified with, and the services provided by them are specific for the prevention, diagnosis, remediation and consultation of speech, language and communication difficulties.

Similarly, speech-language pathologists should not be called to perform the duty of teachers, just like office administrators in schools would not be allowed to teach in classes.

Course on teaching

These two points challenge the criterion of having speech-language pathologists to take a one-year course in teaching prior to job entry.

Nevertheless, it is also important to maintain the idea that speech-language pathologists who wish to work in schools should have sound knowledge of the education principles in Malaysia.

Such knowledge would help them to adapt to the school systems and to deliver effective speech therapy services in school environments.

A clear understanding of their roles in schools would also help them to establish positive working relationships with the teachers, headmasters, and parents.

This healthy relationship potentially leads to productive collaborations that would benefit all involved, particularly the special-need students.

Therefore, instead of an additional teaching diploma, it is suggested speech-language pathologists have to attend an orientation course of a shorter duration conducted by the relevant experts in education.

Such orientation courses should be opened to all graduates in the area of speech-language pathology regardless of their future career directions. The graduates can choose to participate in this course voluntarily.

Perhaps sponsorships could be offered to graduates with good grades as a way to encourage them to consider the option of working in school settings.

Completion of this orientation course provides a ticket for them to apply for the relevant posts in schools or at the ministry. Alternatively, this course can also be introduced as part of speech-therapy training at the university level.

The knowledge learnt could then be reinforced via a supervision and mentoring system established by the ministry in schools, with relevant continual professional development programmes. This practice is common in Australia.

As a whole, there is a call for more efforts from the ministry and all personnel involved in providing high-quality educational care to the students with special needs in Malaysia, in order to improve their learning environment and experiences.

Perhaps one way to start with is to make certain professional services, such as speech and language therapy available and accessible to the students in schools.

In line with the concept of Education For All, our country should move towards advocating inclusive education for all students, including those with special needs.

The idea is that all students, regardless of their conditions, should be given equal learning opportunities, and should not be isolated from the mainstream education system.

Along with this line, support services, such as speech and language therapy are crucial to help students with special needs to adapt to and to cope with regular classroom teaching and learning, and at the same time, to address their specific needs.

Such a system has been long established in many developed countries for at least half a decade. It is therefore time for us to move forward.

>The writer is an expert on Special Education from the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.

Aiding kids with special needs

Sunday December 16, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/12/16/education/12242478&sec=education

By JEANNETTE GOON
educate@thestar.com.my

 

Work and play: A child responds favourably during an interactive session with trainers.Work and play: A child responds favourably during an interactive session with trainers.

The majority of children with learning disabilities will be able to make progress if they are given more support in mainstream schools.

THERE are many children who are born with some form of learning disability but not all of them need to be sent to special education schools.

Datuk Dr Amar Singh, president of the National Early Childhood Intervention Council is of the view that children have varying degrees of disability, however, that doesn’t mean that they all have to be placed in “special’ schools as many of them can cope quite well in regular or mainstream schools, if extra support is provided for them.

He added that there are three groups of children who enter the Malaysian school system. The first group that makes up more than 70% of the school-going population does not have any barriers to learning, while the second group which constitutes only a small percentage has severe learning disabilities. Children from this group need to be sent to special schools.

The third group makes up about 20% of school-going children. They usually have mild learning disabilities but are often enrolled in special schools.

“These children (with mild learning disabilities) are high-functioning enough to be placed in regular or mainstream schools, but because they can’t fit into the normal education system, they are placed in such (special education) schools,” added Dr Amar Singh.

“Being placed in such schools only frustrates them for they are obviously much ahead in all areas compared to their more challenged peers,” he shared.

On the other hand, there are children with learning disabilities who have not been diagnosed and they end up in the bottom or end classes at mainstream schools and are labelled as “stupid”, when in actual fact, they may have high IQs.

“I met a dyslexic boy recently who was unable to read or write, but I was able to converse with him on a range of topics,” said Dr Amar Singh. He added that support had to be provided for these students within mainstream education.

He said that of the autistic students that he worked with, 40% were able to attend mainstream schools with added support from teachers, school heads and other students.

Social skills: The centre helps children to have better social understanding to get by in life, says IssacsSocial skills: The centre helps children to have better social understanding to get by in life, says Issacs

He agreed that early diagnosis and intervention was important for these students and that parents had to “come on board” as well.

Dr Amar Singh said that there were three major groups of people with learning disabilities — physical, sensory and mental. Even within each of these categories are individuals with varying levels of learning difficulties due to conditions such as spinal bifida or physical disabilities due to accidents.

Others may have sensory disabilities like hearing or visual impairments. Yet, there are others who may have autism or other brain-related disabilities such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and dyslexia.

“There are so many children and sub-categories of learning disabilities, that they are not diagnosed properly,” he said.

He added that healthcare professionals needed more training at an undergraduate level to accustom themselves in handling people with such disabilities. He said that besides prescribing the standard procedures such as physiotherapy or speech therapy, those in healthcare also had to act as “point people”.

“Parents need someone who can help them find resources,” he said.

ADHD expert Ben Glenn from the United States, agreed that there were students with learning disabilities who were able to function in mainstream school systems.

He explained that the main difference between a student with ADHD and an average student, was the way they processed information and behaved in the classroom setting.

“Students with ADHD struggle with impulse control, lack of focus, forgetfulness and hyperactivity. Students with ADHD often have other learning disabilities like dyslexia or dysgraphia alongside their ADHD that makes it even harder to learn at the pace of an unaffected student,” he said.

Glenn, who was diagnosed with a myriad of learning disabilities including dyslexia as a child, said that students with ADHD would be able to attend a mainstream school.

“Students with ADHD are able to attend and even be quite successful within a mainstream school system, if the school administrators and teachers understand what ADHD is and are willing and able to accommodate the students that have it.

“Provision of individualised programmes as well as sympathetic administrators and teachers, have allowed many ADHD students to thrive in mainstream classes,” he said.

National Early Childhood Intervention Council vice-president Khor Ai-Na said that children with mild disabilities were actually able to function within the mainstream education system.

“If given support, they will be able to manage their schoolwork and be more independent,” she said, adding that the reason for them to be seen as “non-performing” was because of the Malaysian mindset and the emphasis on achieving distinctions.

“We need to explore different ways to teach. These children are able to handle the same subjects but may process the information differently,” she said.

She added that one teacher may not be enough to handle a classroom of children with learning disabilities. Her suggestion was to have smaller classrooms as well as provide assistants for the teacher.

“The other alternative is to allow personal assistants hired by parents into the classroom so that they can assist the students,” she said.

Khor is also the honorary secretary of the Bold Association for Children with Special Needs, which provides early intervention for any child who presents delays in development.

However, they are unable to provide for school students because they lack the resources to run a school.

According to Autism Malaysia director Jochebed Isaacs, the largest part of its operating cost goes towards staff salaries.

The Autism Malaysia centre uses the Applied Behavioural Analysis Programme, which was designed by researchers involved in the Wisconsin Early Autism Project in the United States.

“In this programme, the children are given personal attention … on a one-to one basis during the time they are at the centre,’’ said Isaacs.

She said 10 staff members were needed to take charge of seven children, adding that those who enrolled their children at the centre paid a hefty monthly sum of RM2,000 or more.

“There are also clinicians to supervise the individualised programmes,” she said. At the centre, different methods are used on different children to cater to the wide spectrum of behavioural traits.

Issacs agreed with the other experts, saying that children with autism should be able to go to school.

“What we do at the centre is to help the children develop the social understanding needed to get by in life.

“Much of the behaviour exhibited by children with autism is actually their way of trying to communicate,” she said.

Taylor’s College associate director Frank Meagher said that every student had the right to have a proper education that met their needs.

Prior to coming to Malaysia, he served for many years as superintendent of special services in Toronto, Canada where he was responsible for ensuring that programmes and services for special education were provided to all in the area.

He was also in charge of preparing the budget for the Canadian Education Ministry.

He admitted that the educational model was “not without challenge” as about 85% of the students who received special education support were placed in regular classrooms for more than half of the school day.

“This underscores the general philosophy of inclusion which calls for students with special needs to be placed in their community school, and as much as possible, in a regular class with their age-appropriate peers and be provided with the necessary academic support for success.

“It also means that regular classroom teachers require a high level of training and support to provide for the individual needs of these students within their classroom.

“In addition to specialised training, there is also the need for special education teachers and support staff assigned to each school, to augment and support the regular classroom teachers’ efforts.

“Class size is a critical factor in this educational model. In order for teachers to provide the individual coaching required by these students, numbers in each class must be reasonable. The average class size in both the elementary and secondary schools is 22,” explained Meagher.

He said that parent involvement was also necessary within this model.

“Another critical component of the model is the partnership with parents who know the strengths of their respective children. Each student who requires a special education programme has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) which is reviewed annually.”

Parents, he said, were required to participate in the development and revision of the plan and have a direct voice in its implementation.

Such plans had a legal component and schools were required to implement the IEP, he added.

“Each school is required to have a School Council, and representation on that council for special needs students is a requirement,” he said.

He admitted that a significant budget was required to ensure success of such an education model as not only academic teaching and support staff were required.

Psychometricians, psychologists, educational assistants, child and youth workers, social work staff, speech and language consultants were among the staff needed in ensuring the smooth running of the model.

“Public education in Canada provides such support and it is fully supported by the nation’s tax payers. Students with special needs in Malaysia deserve no less,” he said.

48,520 murid punyai masalah pembelajaran

06 Disember 2012, Khamis

KUALA LUMPUR 6 Dis. – Seramai 48,520 orang murid di negara ini mempunyai masalah pembelajaran termasuk penghidap Sindrom Down, Autism dan Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), persidangan Dewan Negara diberitahu hari ini.

Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran Datuk Wee Ka Siong berkata daripada jumlah itu, seramai 29,169 orang adalah murid sekolah rendah dan selebihnya murid sekolah menengah.

“Sehubungan itu, Kementerian Pelajaran membuka sebanyak 2,050 Program Pendidikan Khas Integrasi bagi murid bermasalah pembelajaran di seluruh negara,” katanya menjawab soalan Senator Dayang Madinah Tun Abang Openg di sini.

Sementara itu, Timbalan Menteri Sumber Manusia Datuk Maznah Mazlan berkata sehingga Oktober lepas, seramai 3,657 banduan dan tahanan didaftarkan sebagai perantis dalam program Sistem Latihan Dual Nasional (SLDN) bagi pensijilan Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM) Tahap Satu.

Sebanyak 48 bidang latihan boleh diikuti seperti pembuat pakaian, jurukimpal dan pramusaji selama tempoh enam bulan iaitu dua bulan untuk latihan teori dan selebihnya latihan praktikal, katanya.

“Setakat ini, seramai 94 banduan telah menamatkan latihan dan berjaya ditempatkan dalam alam pekerjaan. Selain itu, ia turut dapat meningkat kemahiran diri dan taraf hidup mereka,” katanya menjawab soalan Senator Muhamad Yusof Husin. – BERNAMA

Artikel Penuh: http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Dalam_Negeri/20121206/dn_29/48520-murid-punyai-masalah-pembelajaran#ixzz2Ec5FoJjF
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Special needs,equal rights

20 November 2012 | last updated at 11:19PM

CHILDREN can grow up to be anything. Some will grow up to be what the general world considers to be “successful” people, while the majority will lead more modest lives — successfully holding down jobs, maintaining a budget, being independent, and contributing to society. Regardless of what their destination ends up being, what any child would hope for is a fair opportunity to make what they will and can of their lives. And for the most part, this requires a fair access to education up to the highest possible level; with limitations being set only by the child, and not the system.

That the initial draft of the Malaysia Education Blueprint had special needs education as only a sub-section of Chapter 4, instead of a chapter in its own right, is an oversight that should not have happened; but it is good to know that the matter will be rectified in the final draft. An estimate two years ago had the number of special needs children in the country at 540,000 — more than five per cent of our child population. But of this number, only 43,142 were in schools that catered to children with special needs. The rest were speculated to have not yet had their disabilities identified, or were kept from school because of shame, poverty or lack of opportunities.

That nearly half a million children may not be in school, or may not be getting the help they truly need to learn, because of their difference in ability, is shameful, and must be rectified not only on paper, but down on the ground. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Malaysia has committed itself to habilitate persons with disabilities (PWD) to achieve a “full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with persons without disabilities”. Towards this end, preschool education will be made available for PWD children through the 2013 Budget. Indeed, early intervention programmes are crucial for equipping PWDs with socio-emotional skills that they will need to keep on learning to survive in the world.

In addition, efforts must be made to ensure that schools and public infrastructure are disabled-friendly, and policies for enrolling special needs children must change. For, although the Education Ministry provides education for special needs children up to secondary level, only those who are able to manage themselves without aid are taken in. This sidelines those who are less able even further by denying them the opportunity to improve themselves and gain vital living skills. Special needs people should be integrated into society, not set apart.

Read more: Special needs,equal rights – Editorial – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/editorial/special-needs-equal-rights-1.173672#ixzz2CjlQ4LW8