Posted on September 7, 2012, Friday
SIBU: The National Early Childhood Intervention Council (Necic) is urging the Education Ministry to consider the needs of children who require special education.
In an emailed press statement, Necic said it was grateful to the ministry for requesting feedback from the public and organisations on the needs and services to be provided to children.
However, with many pressing issues for education reform, from syllabus to homework volume and unhealthy focus on examinations, Necic wants to bring to the attention of the ministry and the public the large proportion of children with special needs.
Based on data and experiences, the gap between normal children and children with special needs starts when they enter Primary 1, the statement said.
It added: “If children who reach primary school going-age (6-year-olds) are not ‘school-ready’, they would enter school with problems and are difficult for schools and teachers to handle.
“The gap then continues to widen as they grow.”
Basically, children can be divided into three groups in terms of their education ability and needs, according to the statement, which also stated that 70 to 80 per cent of children are in the first group.
“They have most of their educational resources in the country for they do not have great difficulties in learning.
“Three to five per cent of the children have a major disability and are identified early by health professionals, usually at birth or before the age of five.
“This group requires special education. Generally, there is some provision for them in the education system, although the quality and distribution (access) of the services is questionable.”
The statement said 15 to 20 per cent of children had more subtle problems.
“They have milder disabilities or problems of specific learning disorders, such as Dyslexia, high functioning Autism, ADHD, emotional problems and environmental deprivation.
“They have normal intelligence but with many barriers to education, often known to have behaviour problems, poor school performance, school failure and so forth.
“Thus, Necic believes that it is important to recognise the third group, in which the current education programme has failed to do so.
“Necic believes that the problem occurs in the system and the Key Performance Index (KPI) than with the children.”
Necic found it inappropriate that the system allowed these children to fall into disabled children category when they failed to meet the criteria as required in the mainstream education system.
Necic also urged the ministry to emulate the models or ideas from other countries to include all children within mainstream education instead of segregating them to disability syllabus.
The statement said among the ideas to be adopted are recruiting the best students to become teachers, providing the best teachers for the most educationally challenged children, offering better school environments for these children through smaller classes in mainstream education and recognising that they have special needs.
Necic is a registered coalition of parents, therapists and professionals from NGOs and government agencies.
It is involved in and advocates early childhood intervention as a right and is keen to optimise the learning and development of children with special needs.