Hub for special education

Tuesday June 19, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/19/nation/11503916&sec=nation

Called Seameo SEN, the centre will focus on strengthening, consolidating and enhancing the field of special education in the region.

Both Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Brunei counterpart Abu Bakar Apong, who is also currently the Seameo president, witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding here yesterday.

Under the memorandum signed by Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Rosli Mohamed and Seameo secretariat director Dr Witaya Jeradechakul, the centre will be given the green light to start its operations.

The Seameo SEN will be supervised by its own governing body comprising representatives from each member country, and they will review the centre’s operation and budget as well as set policies and programmes.

“The proposed centre will be operating temporarily at an existing teacher training institute in Malacca, which has a special education department.

“This existing institute has excellent facilities and modern facilities with a readily equipped office set-up, lecture halls, tutorial rooms, recreational room, accommodation, administration office and cafeteria conducive for human capital development,” said in a statement issued by the Education Ministry yesterday.

The setting up of the centre will be funded by the Malaysian Govern-ment.

School needed for autistic kids

Tuesday June 19, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/19/nation/11503572&sec=nation

By YVONNE LIM
yvonnelim@thestar.com.my

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor suggested that such a school be set up in Malaysia, after seeing the success of the Ivymount School in Washington DC that has an autism programme which includes education through music.

Autism is a developmental disorder which is usually detected in a child within the first 30 months of life.

Despite limitations in communicating normally, many with autism have exhibited extraordinary intellectual and creative capacities such as in the area of mathematics and music, and excellent memory skills.

“Those with autism cannot respond normally when spoken to or taught in an ordinary manner. During the visit, I saw that they learn well through music. A set of autistic twins I met refused to respond when I talked to them, but when asked to sing, they sang so well,” Rosmah said when presenting the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom) with a donation of RM550,000.

The donation was from the earnings of a rock melon harvest at the Prime Minister’s residence in Seri Perdana.

The rock melon project was started by Rosmah in 2010 and is now being carried out by Iris Corporation Berhad. Earnings from the first sale of fruits amounting to RM600,000 were given to the 1Malaysia Council of Single Mothers Associations last year.

Rosmah said those with autism had an equal chance for success as normal people if given appropriate education and nurturing, citing American cattle breeder Temple Grandin, jazz musician Matt Savage and Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri as some of the successful individuals living with autism.

Fatimah: State needs vocational school for the deaf

Monday June 11, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/11/sarawak/11453892&sec=sarawak

By ZORA CHAN
zora@thestar.com.my

Let’s dance: Members of Sarawak Society for the Deaf dancing during the association’s 30th anniversary dinner. — ZORA CHAN/ The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak needs a vocational school for the deaf to better train them for the various industries that are coming up in the state.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said the country now had two such vocational schools in Selangor and Penang.

She said since there were more people with impaired hearing registered with the Welfare Department in the state — from 142 in 2008 to 452 this year — it was time for a vocational school to be built.

“If there is a vocational school for the deaf in Sarawak, our people need not have to go to the peninsula for training.”

The vocational school would also serve the needs of people with various disabilities or special needs, she said when officiating at Sarawak Society for the Deaf’s (SSD) 30th anniversary dinner here on Saturday.

Fatimah said people with disabilities or special needs should not be left out in the country’s workforce but instead given the opportunity to learn and prove their self worth.

She said it was heartening to note that SSD members were employed as account executive, teacher, administrative assistant, tailor and mechanic, while some as home-based artists.

“Some also excel in sports. This goes to show that the deaf are equally capable to work like others,” she said, adding that education plus motivation were the key to these successful stories.

All together: Fatimah (third from right) flanked by Sarawak Society for the Deaf’s committee members and invited guests during the association’s anniversary dinner.

Fatimah commended the society for a job well done in holding motivational talks, free tuition classes, tailoring and hair dressing courses for its members and assisting them in job placement to enable them to earn a decent income.

“Members have been successfully placed at various places of employment where they are suitably matched. One of the very successful employment stories is the KFC Saujana, which is managed by the deaf,” she said.

To date, Fatimah said, 27,919 disabled people in the state had registered with the department and they mainly comprised those with learning disabilities.

“The government has various aids for the disabled such as lens, prosthetic, glasses, wheel chair and hearing aid which amounted to RM123,797 between January and June this year,” she said.

The government also distributed monthly disabled employee allowance to 1,863 amounting to RM2.2mil from January to April this year and monthly aid for unemployed disabled to 2,703 amounting to RM1.6mil.

“We also spent about RM2.2mil for 1,847 disabled who are bed ridden and admitted to the hospitals,” she added.

Keperluan pendidikan khas sentiasa dititikberatkan: Muhyiddin

Posted on June 10, 2012, Sunday

SIBU: Kementerian Pelajaran sentiasa komited dalam memenuhi keperluan pendidikan khas kanak-kanak dengan memperluaskan perkhidmatan ke peringkat prasekolah dan memainkan peranan pen-ting dalam mengenal pasti dan mempersiapkan mereka untuk hadir ke sekolah.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin berkata, guru-guru pendidikan khas memerlukan kesabaran yang tinggi ketika melayan kerenah kanak-kanak istimewa dalam persekitaran kelas dan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) turut berperanan penting menerusi tanggungjawab sokongan.

“Majoriti kanak-kanak yang mengalami masalah autisme, hiperaktif dan disleksia mempunyai tahap IQ yang normal dan kebanyakan me-reka dapat diajar dengan sistem pembelajaran utama dengan bantuan sokongan lain.

“Dengan jalinan kerjasama antara Kementerian Pelajaran dengan NGO telah memberikan satu pengalaman yang penting dan bermakna dalam pendidikan khas kanak-kanak,” jelasnya.

Muhyiddin berkata demikian menerusi teks ucapannya yang dibacakan oleh Pengarah Baha- gian Pengurusan Sekolah Harian Kementerian Pelajaran Datuk Mazlan Mohamad ketika menyem- purnakan Majlis Penutupan Per- sidangan Kebangsaan Intervensi Awal Kanak-kanak (NECIC), semalam.

Hadir sama Presiden Majlis Kebangsaan Intervensi Awal Kanak-kanak Datuk Dr Amar Singh, Pengerusi Bersama Jawatankuasa Pengajur NECIC Datuk Kapitan Janet Lau dan Kapitan Wong Hie Ching dan Pengarah Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM) Negeri Sarawak Noriah Ahmad.

Muhyiddin berkata, masalah kesukaran pembelajaran menjadi cabaran besar dalam pendidikan khas kanak-kanak dengan statistik 10 hingga 15 peratus kanak-kanak istimewa mengalami masalah pembelajaran seperti autisme, hiperaktif, sindrom Down dan disleksia.

“Malah, dalam kalangan kanak-kanak yang mengalami keupayaan fizikal turut memerlukan pendidikan khas sebagai komponen penting sokongan yang diperlukan mereka dalam menjalani kehidupan seharian,” katanya.

Muhyiddin yang juga Menteri Pelajaran turut berharap ibu bapa memberi peluang sama rata kepada anak-anak agar dapat memaksimumkan potensi mereka ke satu tahap kejayaan yang boleh dibanggakan.

“Kadang kala, orang kurang upaya (OKU) terus kekal OKU kerana mereka tidak diberikan peluang yang sama adil dan kemudahan fasiliti seperti pengangkutan, pendidikan yang pekerjaan seperti orang normal,” ujar beliau.

Ujar beliau, sudah tiba masanya untuk merealisasikan impian kanak-kanak istimewa sebagai sebahagian daripada konsep 1Malaysia dan menyatupadukan kanak-kanak istimewa tanpa mengira kaum, bangsa dan agama.

Dalam perkembangan lain, Muhyiddin memberitahu Kementerian Pelajaran telah menerima Memorandum Pendidikan Inklusif Sebagai Polisi Kebangsaan untuk Kanak-kanak Berkeperluan Khas yang diketuai oleh Majlis Kebangsaan Intervensi Awal Kanak-kanak.

“Pendidikan khas awal kanak-kanak telah menunjukkan kemajuan dan banyak perubahan sejak beberapa tahun yang lepas. Saya mengucapkan taniah dan syabas atas sumbangan idea, cadangan dan komen yang dilakukan untuk menjayakan memorandum ini,” jelasnya.

Seramai kira-kira 550 peserta dari Malaysia, United Kingdom, Australia, Amerika Syarikat, Singapura, Brunei dan Indonesia melibatkan ibu bapa, petugas pendidikan dan kesihatan dan sukarelawan menghadiri persidangan tiga hari itu.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/10/keperluan-pendidikan-khas-sentiasa-dititikberatkan-muhyiddin/#ixzz1xS8Lgdtw

DPM: 10-15 pct children have learning disability

Posted on June 10, 2012, Sunday

OVER TO YOU: NECIC president Datuk Dr Amar Singh (fourth right) hands over the memorandum to Mazlan (representing Muhyiddin) witnessed by state Social Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad (left), co-chair of the local organising committee Datuk Kapitan Janet Lau (third right) and Sibu Divisional education officer Wong Chung Kung (second right) at the closing of the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference.

SIBU: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday 10 to 15 per cent of children have some form of learning disability.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, added that this included conditions like autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down’s Syndrome and dyslexia.

He assured that a memorandum on Inclusive Education would be given due consideration as a starting point to see children as children first.

“Learning disabilities have emerged as the largest challenge in the education of children with special needs. Even in some children with physical disability and those with intellectual impairment, special education remains a vital component of the support they need,” he said in conjunction with the closing of the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference here.

His text-of-speech was read by the director of day school management division (Ministry of Education), Datuk Mazlan Mohamad.

The conference themed ‘Family-centred Practices – Early Childhood Intervention and Beyond’ started on Thursday and ended yesterday.

The official media are Utusan Borneo, The Borneo Post and See Hua Daily News.

More than 600 delegates from NGOs and government agencies throughout the country as well as over 50 international participants attended the conference.

Muhyiddin pointed out that the majority of children with autism, ADHD and dyslexia have a normal IQ and many can be educated in the main stream education nationwide.

NGOs, he said could play vital supportive role given that teachers were often at a loss on how to deal with children with special needs in a larger classroom environment.

“The Education Department is committed to meeting the education needs of all children with special needs. The Ministry of Education (MoE) is extending its services into the pre-school area and this plays a vital role in identifying and preparing children for school.

“There is also a need to inject passion and commitment into teachers educating children with special needs.”

He mentioned that the welfare of children with special needs had been relatively well taken care by the Social Welfare Department.

With the country moving forward towards full developed status, more efforts were needed to ensure the educational needs of these children were fully taken care of.

“As such, Malaysia had enacted the PWD (Persons with Disability) Act in 2008 as well as signed the UN convention on the Rights of PWD. MoE had long been involved with the education of children with special needs,” he noted.

He observed that early childhood education and care had taken big strides and improvement over the past few years.

Muhyiddin assured that the Memorandum on Inclusive Education as National Policy spearheaded by the NECIC and endorsed/supported by 60 NGOs nationwide would receive due consideration.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/10/dpm-10-15-pct-children-have-learning-disability/#ixzz1xS5vMMuv

S’wak needs vocational school for the deaf

Posted on June 11, 2012, Monday

by Georgette Tan, reporters@theborneopost.com.

HAPPY 30TH ANNIVERSARY: Fatimah (centre) cutting the anniversary cake together with Sim (fourth left), Noriah (third left) and members of the organising committee.

KUCHING: Sarawak wants its own vocational school for the deaf so that this group of disadvantaged people can have easier access to education.

Presently, there are only two vocational schools for the deaf in the country — SM Vokasional Shah Alam and SMK Persekutuan Pulau Pinang.

“We hope to have one in Sarawak so that our students need not go to Peninsular Malaysia for vocational training,” said Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.

Speaking at the  30th anniversary celebration of the Sarawak Society for the Deaf (SSD), Fatimah said that education is always the way forward.

Sarawak has a primary school for the hearing-impaired, with a total of 147 students. At the secondary school level, 89 deaf students learn alongside normal students at integrated schools located in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

“That’s a good practice. If we want to have a caring society, we have to let the physically disadvantaged be integrated with the normal students so they can experience socialising with each other,” said Fatimah.

A vital role played by SDD is job placement for their deaf members. A successful employment story is KFC Saujana, which is fully operated and managed by deaf employees.

Fatimah said the government has a policy of hiring disabled persons to make up one per cent of its workforce, but it is still not widely practised.

“We still have to work very hard to convince the public at large that the deaf are equally capable. We have to give opportunities for them to show their capability.”

The hearing-impaired makes up the third highest group of disabled people registered with the State Welfare Department at 452 people as of June this year. In the lead is learning impediments at 1,472, followed by physical disabilities at 923.

SSD has a membership of 243, comprising mainly of young adults, working individuals, secondary students and school leavers.

The society organises motivational talks for deaf members, sign language classes for hearing people, and free tuition for deaf primary school pupils and secondary school students.

There is also the car wash project, tailoring project, hair dressing project and line dancing.

According to SSD chairman BC Sim, they are actively pursuing tertiary education options for their members and have managed to gain support from several local institutions.

“If we sponsor a member, the institution will admit another member for free,” he said in his speech.

He added that while the northern regions of Sarawak have their own society for the deaf, the central region is still lacking one.

“The Lion’s Club of Sibu is currently setting one up,” he said, adding that he encouraged the deaf in Sibu to also form their own club to better manage their own needs.

During the celebration, members of SSD presented a line dance to music that they could not hear, and a sketch.

They also acknowledged the successes of individual members, who have risen beyond their disability to have their own families and careers.

Also present at the celebration was State Welfare director Noriah Ahmad.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/11/swak-needs-vocational-school-for-the-deaf/#ixzz1xS4ybHDN

Inclusive policy towards integration

Sunday June 10, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/10/sarawak/11451342&sec=sarawak

By PHILIP HII
philiphii@thestar.com.my

SIBU: A memorandum on inclusive education as a national policy for children with special needs had been submitted to the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in line with the National Education Review 2012.

The memorandum, submitted through the National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC), was endorsed by a coalition of over 60 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) nationwide last month.

This was confirmed by Muhyiddin, who is Deputy Prime Minister, in the test of his speech at the closing of the Fourth National Early Childhood Intervention Conference held here yesterday. He gave the assurance that the Education Ministry (MOE) would take into consideration the recommendations contained in the memorandum.

Muhyiddin’s speech was read out by the MOE School Management Division director Datuk Mazlan Mohamad, who was present on his behalf. The deputy premier stressed that MOE was committed to meeting the educational needs of children with special needs.

In appreciation: Mazlan (second from left) receiving a souvenir from Wong. Looking on are Sarawak Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad (left), Dr Amar-Singh (fourth from left) and co-chair Datuk Janet Lau (right).

“MOE is extending its services into the pre-school area and this plays a vital role in identifying and preparing special needs children for school,” the deputy prime minister added.

He said between 10 and 15% of children had some form of learning disability, including conditions like autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Down Syndrome and dyslexia.

Muhyiddin pointed out that the majority of these children had a normal IQ and many of them, with some support, could be educated in the main stream education system.

“Even in some children with physical disability and those with intellectual impairment, special education remains a vital component of the support they need,” he pointed out.

He said MOE would explore and extend inclusive education in partnership with experienced NGOs throughout the country.

“We must invest more in our children so that they can have the opportunities to reach their fullest potential,” Muhyiddin said, adding: “Sometimes an OKU (person with disability) remained an OKU simply because he has not been given equal opportunities, hence has no access to education and employment.”

He said the time had come for us to integrate special needs children into our hearts and society.

NECIC president Datuk Dr Amar-Singh, who also spoke, urged for more people to get involve in the early childhood intervention programmes.

He also wanted parents to be actively involved in shaping the NECIC policy and all stakeholders to work collectively to remove any barrier or red tape.

“We recognise that children are our treasure. It is a child’s right to get support and it is our responsibility to provide them the support they need,” he added.

Co-organising chairman Wong Hie Ching told the participants that after the conference they were now equipped with new knowledge and they should make full use of what they had learnt to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently.

The three-day conference was attended by 734 participants from throughout the country including from Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Parents who share different views should also be accommodated

Sunday June 10, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/10/nation/11452499&sec=nation

The Star Says

THE Government is considering ways to implement the lower admission age to primary school of five-plus.

That provision had been included in the Education Ministry’s Interim Strategic Plan 2011-2020. It is well that time is now taken to ponder implementation, as it would affect millions of families nationwide.

The drive to cut the admission age by one year comes from parents eager to push their children, with many already enrolling them in pre-school classes.

However, other parents may also have good reason to stick with the present entrance age. Their wishes ought to be respected also.

They may want more quality time for their children to bond with them and their siblings at home. They may see childhood before school as valuable time, during which home-based teaching and upbringing are preferable to formal schooling.

These parents may also want to avoid undue school-based pressure on their young children. Countries that have allowed this pressure to escalate have seen unhealthy consequences for the children.

In hoping to learn from other countries, Malaysia should not have to repeat their mistakes. Making Malaysian adults more productive and competitive need not entail piling more pressure on five-year-olds.

At some point, Malaysians may have to ask themselves what the core purposes of early childhood education should be.

The trick is to make learning fun for young children, allowing their natural curiosity to develop under proper adult guidance. Children should be encouraged to think for themselves, motivating their individual initiative as self-starters rather than simply depending on others to hand them information.

Placing too many demands on children too early can easily backfire. Instead of cultivating their love of knowledge and learning, children can be put off studies for life.

This is a more delicate matter than many people seem to realise. If a goal is lifelong education, children must not be scared off with well-meaning but short-sighted and overbearing policies.

One alternative is to maintain the existing mandatory age of school entry, while making the curriculum more concise, creative and appealing. Another alternative is to give parents the choice of enrolling their children at six-plus or five-plus.

The Education Act 1996 does not provide for any such flexibility. The different perspectives of parents should be accommodated because they have ultimate responsibility for their children’s welfare.

Professor with disability credits her teachers

Posted on June 8, 2012, Friday

by Jane Moh, reporters@theborneopost.com.

SIBU: A Taiwanese professor dedicated her life to becoming a teacher helping special needs children after her own teachers did the same for her forty years ago.

Professor Chuang Chiung Hui who is now a consultant at Shin-Wan-Ai Centre, Taichung, Taiwan, a centre dedicated to helping special needs children, remembered how her teachers treated her as equals even though she suffers from poliomyelitis.

She credits her teachers for her involvement with special needs children now.

In her work with this group of children, Chuang believes in early intervention and inclusion programme for special needs children.

Chuang is the living proof that inclusion programme works, given the understanding and love from teachers.

“I have never been to a special school. In addition, I think growing up, I always had teachers to take care of me. They always made sure what I did was right.

“There was no special school in my time, nor did they know anything about special needs.

“Because they were willing to teach me and treat me just like other children, though with special attention, I am able to stand here as I am today,” she pointed out.

She also said there was no special training for teachers in those times.

“Teachers are very important. I believe helping children is not a very difficult thing to do if teachers are willing to spend more time to understand their needs,” she said.

She also said whether the children could be successful all depended on teachers.

Chung said she was grateful in spite of her disability because of the opportunity to share her experience with her students.

She believed her disability happened for a reason; it allowed her to see differently and be determined to help others.

“I do not think I would fight for what I am fighting right now if I were not born like this. I think God does not create you as a useless person, but with a purpose,” she pointed out.

Chuang said the most difficult part in this job was not dealing with children, but parents.

She cited an example of a teacher who finally gave up her job as a teacher because of the pressure from a parent who was not willing to cooperate.

She related that there was a child who had communication problem and did not talk for about six months. The teacher approached the mother of the child and told her that she believed that the child was a special needs child.

The mother of the child got very angry and threatened to call for a press conference if the school could not provide a genuine apology.

“The matter was resolved in the end, but the teacher was heartbroken and finally gave up and resigned,” she lamented, adding that a doctor was later consulted and confirmed that the child was indeed a special needs child.

She also added that the centre had always motivated the teachers to be patient and conduct special training for teachers to enable them to communicate with the parents.

On the National Early Childhood Intervention Conference at Kingwood Hotel here, she said it was a good event that marked a new beginning to do something for special needs people.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/08/professor-with-disability-credits-her-teachers/#ixzz1xADqDZ3h

Lessons in mother tongue for special needs children

Posted on June 8, 2012, Friday

by Conny Banji, reporters@theborneopost.com.

FOR THE ALBUM: Janet Lau (third left) presents a memento to Fatimah as Temenggong Vincent Lau (right) and others look on.

SIBU: Preschool classes for children with special needs may be conducted in their mother tongue from next year.

Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said her ministry had submitted the proposal to the Education Ministry earlier this year.

“A few Chinese parents of children with special needs have told me that their children had problems learning in Bahasa Malaysia. We discussed the matter with the State Education Department, hence the proposal.”

Fatimah told reporters this after she officiated at the opening of the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference at a hotel here yesterday.

She said it was a good move because with their own difficulties, the children with special needs were finding it tough to learn another language.

She said SJK (C) Thai Kwang in Sibu had already taught the special need preschoolers in Mandarin while the government had planned to do the same for SK Kenyalang in Kuching.

There are five preschools for special needs children in the state.

Earlier in her speech, Fatimah, who is also Special Olympics Sarawak Chapter chairperson, said that there were 2,900 primary to secondary students attending 142 special education classes in the state at the moment. On a similar matter, she said the number of disabled people registered with the state’s Welfare Department now were 27,919.

About 750 participants from Peninsular Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Australia, USA, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia comprising parents, education and health professionals and kindergarten teachers are attending the three-day conference.

It is jointly organised by the Health Department, United Nation Children’s Fund, the Education Department and Welfare Department.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/08/lessons-in-mother-tongue-for-special-needs-children/#ixzz1xACg1c7p