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.