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