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.