Archive for the ‘Persons with special needs’ Category

Education for all students

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR : THE Education Ministry is holding true to its promise of increasing access to education for all, by giving due attention to special needs students and continually finding ways to improve special education.

With 78,310 special needs students in the country registered with the ministry up till today, the ministry and the government are not hesitant to invest in them with hopes that they will in the future be among contributors to a greater Malaysia.

A spokesperson for the Special Education Division said, since 1990, Malaysia had been showing significant progress in special education, primarily on its curriculum, teacher supply, pedagogy, as well as the establishment of the Special Education Department, which has now become the Special Education Division, a clause on special education in the Education Act 1996 and the introduction of the Education Rules (Special Education) 1997.

“Currently, we have special needs students in 34 special education schools, 2,272 national schools that offer the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) and 4,995 national schools that offer the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI).”

The PPKI sees special needs students study in the same school as mainstream students but in different classes, while the PPI sees special needs students immersed with mainstream students in the same classes.

The Special Education Division was in charge of special education schools which are made up of 28 Sekolah Kebangsaan Pendidikan Khas, two Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas and four Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional nationwide

“Education Rules (Special Education) 2013 defined special needs students as those among six categories, which are hearing-impaired, sight-impaired, speech-impaired, physically-impaired, learning difficulties and multiple disabilities.

“The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) also called for increasing enrolment of special needs students in the PPI by improving the quality of the programme offer holistically.”

With the aim to produce quality human capital, special needs students are not trained to just follow instructions but to also have knowledge, skills and good character, constantly be on the road to self-improvement and have the ability to work with minimal supervision.

In relation to achieving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) and producing an excellent younger generation in 30 years to come, teachers must be creative in educating students, including special needs students.

“The mode of learning for every special needs students is different and they need well-planned, relevant and realistic pedagogy modifications.

“Teachers must be the thinkers of pedagogy in planning, moulding and producing dynamic approaches to the teaching and learning process.”

Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Shah Alam is one of the four special education schools that specialises in vocational education.

The school’s administration senior assistant, Khairulanuar Suhib, said the school offered 10 courses for special needs students, including desktop publishing, hairdressing, housekeeping operation, furniture production and operation, as well as batik production and operation.

“All our courses have been certified by the Skills Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) and consists of three phases.

“The school currently has 205 students, where 101 of them have learning disabilities, 97 have hearing disabilities, six have multiple disabilities and one has physical disabilities.”

The classes, he said, have an average of eight students and two teachers, making it easier for lessons to be individualised and focused on each student.

The teaching and learning process ensured that every student is given their own time and space to learn according to their own ability and not more than that.

In addition to specialised classes and top-notch teachers, special needs students are also given allowances of RM150 a month, which adds up to RM1,800 every year for each student.

“One hundred per cent of their food is sponsored while they are in school and they can even go back home from their hostels every week.

“To go to school, they only need to bring personal belongings, other than that, the ministry has been gracious enough to sponsor,” he said.


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Being Visually Impaired No Obstacle To Success – STPM High Achiever

Friday, May 19th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 (Bernama) — “Being visually impaired will not withhold me from achieving success,” said Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) high achiever A. Mahavithya, 22.

The student of Kolej Sri Putra, Banting, Perak persevered despite being blind in both eyes to achieve a CGPA of 2.9 in the recent STPM examination, making her one of the country’s disabled high achievers.

“I was the only one back in school who was blind, therefore, I had to use the braille system to study.

“Slowly, but surely I made it. I dedicated myself to my studies and was determined to do well just like the rest of my classmates.”

Mahavithya, who lives with her sister’s in-laws after having lost her parents at a very young age, is grateful to her immediate family who raised her despite not being one of the own and providing her with education.

The petite young lady said she had sent her application to several public universities to pursue a degree in teaching and was waiting for a placement.

“I plan to pursue a degree in teaching and hope to become a teacher, I love the Malay language and would like to become a BM (Bahasa Melayu) teacher,” she added.

Another high achiever, P.Kunasegaran, 18 who scored 10As in the recent Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination said the key to do well in the examinations is through the art of balancing.

“In order to excel, you have to know how to balance your studies and extra curricular activities. Days leading to the SPM examinations, I decided to focus more on revision and less on curricular activities,” said Kunasegaran from SMK Tinggi St.David, Melaka.

“Nevertheless, I managed to do well. The other thing, is to take it easy and do not stress much over exams. With the right kind of revision, anything is possible.”


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Teachers trained to coach disabled students

Saturday, April 8th, 2017
Teachers learn random baton passing at a course to coach disabled=

Teachers learn random baton passing at a course to coach disabled pupils to compete in running, jumping and throwing events in the state.

CHAN Bih Yee is a deaf education Mathematics teacher in SMK Tunku Ampuan Durah, Seremban.

Since she is not a qualified sports coach, she wanted to learn about para athletics training for her disabled students.

Together with 64 participants, she attended the Basic Para Athletics Technical-Coaching Course at Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) Kampus Raja Melewar earlier last month.

“I have been teaching students who are in Forms One to Five.

“By attending this course, I will be able to train my students aged 15 to 19 on the correct way to run, jump and do throwing events.

“In addition, I also learned how to measure their performances correctly so as to gauge how they are doing in the field,” said Chan.

The course was jointly organised by the Negri Sembilan Para Athletics Association (POPNS) with the cooperation of the Special Education Unit of the Negri Sembilan Education Department, and IPG Kampus Raja Melewar.

The aim of the course is to equip serving and retired teachers as well as teacher trainees with the skills to identify, teach and coach disabled pupils to compete in running, jumping and throwing events in the state.

The course was conducted by national athletics instructors K. Yogasvaren and S. Anbarassuu.

Participants learned the fundamentals and techniques of running, throwing, jumping, event rules, as well as pointers on how to warm up and cool down during training.

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Special Education Courses To Enable Teachers Teach Children With Special Needs – Kamalanathan

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 (Bernama) — The Education Ministry intends to offer additional special education courses to school teachers to enable them to teach students with special needs.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the move was an alternative to the existing practice of prospective teachers taking the course at teacher education institutes.

“What is happening in some schools today is we place teachers who are not experts in special education to teach children with learning issues.

“So, if physical education or music teachers are interested to add special education as an option, we (ministry) will offer them the course,” he said.

He said this to reporters after launching the ‘National Conference on Autism and Inclusion’ here Saturday.

Kamalanathan said the ministry would study the proposal and hold discussions with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the best approach to working this out.

He said the ministry was willing to conduct the course for teachers who are interested during the school holidays and the teachers would continue to teach at the same school.

With this approach he hoped teachers who have been trained with the skills to teach special education would be able to teach children with special needs along with other normal students in the same classroom.


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Better Education Can Illuminate The World Of The Blind

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — When he was in school, Silatul Rahim Dahman dreamt of being a scientist or astronomer someday. He knew it would be a daunting task for him to realise his ambition as a bout of high fever had left him blind since the age of six.

He did not allow his disability to stand in his way as he was a diligent student at Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Setar, Kedah, where he studied.

However, he had to bid goodbye to his dreams in Form Three as he was forced to drop mathematics and science, simply due to the lack of textbooks in Braille.

Not one to wallow in self-pity, Silatul Rahim went on to complete his secondary school education and made good with a couple of opportunities that came his way that allowed him to obtain a diploma in Assistive Technology from Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia in the United States in 1989, and a diploma in Access Technology from the Carroll Center for the Blind in Boston in 2007.

Today, Silatul Rahim, 49, is chief executive officer of the Malaysian Foundation for the Blind (MFB).

“As a student, I was very keen on studying in the science stream but was forced to switch to arts. Of course, I was disappointed,” he said.

He said currently, there was still a lack of textbooks for the blind for critical subjects like science and maths due to the shortage of experts who could convert the conventional texts into Braille.

“It’s not easy to do the Braille version of maths as a lot formulae, figures and calculations are involved. We need really good experts to do this,” he added.

According to Silatul Rahim, the difficulty in securing reading materials and workbooks, especially for subjects like science and mathematics, in Braille has resulted in many students not being to pursue their higher studies in the fields concerned.

Over 50,000 visually handicapped people are registered with the Social Welfare Department but only a handful of them are said to be self-reliant.

Silatul Rahim is lucky he has a good job and can fend for himself. Those without educational qualifications or skills have no choice but to resort to begging, selling packets of tissue or busking in public places to eke out a living.

Deserve Equal Opportunities:

For many years, local associations and organisations taking care of the welfare of the blind have been demanding that special education students be accorded the same opportunities as mainstream school students, knowing fully well that education is the right agent to transform people with disabilities into human capital.

In line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s commitment in 2000 to achieve the Education For All goals by 2015, the disabled community also deserves to be given opportunities to realise their full potential as they too can contribute to the nation’s development.

It has been almost 60 years since this nation attained independence, but they are are still struggling for better educational facilities and resources which, if made available to them, can propel them to the same level as their able-bodied peers.

“It’s not like as if they are incapable of competing with normal students,” remarked Malaysian Muslim Association for the Blind vice president Zamzuri Gani.

“In fact, in the 2015 SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) exam, two blind students scored 10As. This shows that they can do well if given the appropriate space and opportunities.”

Acknowledging that the number of blind students accepted into public and private institutions of higher learning has been on the rise, Zamzuri said most of them pursued their tertiary education in the arts, Islamic studies, economics, law and other fields.

“However, very few blind students join critical fields like science and mathematics. It’s not that they lack the capability, but there’s a dire shortage of facilities and resources to meet their needs,” he said.

Not Enough Braille Textbooks:

The issue of insufficient textbooks in Braille at the special schools for the blind is a long-standing one, and the authorities have still not found a solution for it.

According to Zamzuri, there were still no textbooks for some subjects like Bahasa Arab and Islamic Studies that were taught at secondary schools.

“Apart from that, we also face problems of Braille textbooks that are damaged or have gone missing… it’s difficult to replace these books because of the high cost involved,” he said.

To overcome the shortage of textbooks in Braille, many special schools for the blind have opted for the cheaper audio learning aids. But the audio system has its share of constraints as it is only suitable for the teaching of subjects like Bahasa Malaysia, English and history that do not use much graphics.


by Kurniawati Kamarudin
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Testing and supporting struggling students

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

The Education Ministry has come up with a test that assesses pupils with learning difficulties and helps them define their strengths and skills, to move on to the next level.

THE Year Six boy carefully counts the change and hands the money to his “customer” on the other side of the counter.

The “customer’ has bought some popiah from his “stall’ to have for her mid-morning break.

Just behind him is his teacher who observes the transaction. She takes note of the cash he has as the boy puts it away in the till.

The teacher’s presence at the “stall” is to grade her pupil for his basic counting ability and his interactive and conversational skills with his customer.

Her rating of the pupil is a requirement that has been outlined in the Pentaksiran Alternatif Sekolah Rendah (PASR).

Introduced in February, the PASR is an assessment to gauge pupils with learning disabilities who have between six and eight years of schooling. It is similar in concept to how mainstream Year Six pupils are gauged in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

The PASR objective is to assess pupils’ aptitude for numbers, their ability to interact with others and learn a skill.It also aims to measure the achievement and the development level of special needs pupils using an integrated assessment approach which encourages meaningful learning by using skills that can be applied in real life.

Prior to the PASR implementation, pupils with learning disabilities did not have any alternative to cater to their learning needs.

In fact, there has so far been no centralised assessment at all for special needs pupils.

While no single test or evaluation can capture a child’s full spectrum of strengths and challenges, an assessment like the PASR helps teachers gauge their pupils to some extent.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector head Mohd Satar Ramli says the Education Ministry wanted a fair way to assess these pupils.

“We explored and studied the assessment instruments used in foreign countries and found that they had modified their mainstream syllabus to suit the pupils’ needs,” he adds.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (second from left) presents Khoo Jenny (second from right), a special needs student from SK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, with her PASR certificate. — File photo

“We didn’t want to modify the national syllabus for special needs pupils just for the sake of doing so,” he adds, saying that the ministry wants to make sure the assessment report has a purpose in helping and defining the pupil’s development to the next level.

He says the ministry is taking a “gentle approach’’ as the children are sensitive.

In 2016, 2,550 pupils from 738 schools took the PASR.

One of the ways the ministry is using a gentle approach for this assessment is to do away with grades.

Instead, candidates are given a competency level ranking.

“They are either “not competent”, “competent” and “more than competent”.

Under the PASR, there is no “fail” or “distinction”.

“We are not judging them by grades, neither are we trying to sugar-coat and give false impressions,” he adds.

“This is what we call an authentic assessment.”

“The ministry believes that if a candidate is rated “not competent” in a skill, but continues to be taught and guided, he can become competent in that skill.

“We also do not want to draw comparisons among candidates as this will cause competition and that is not what the PASR is about,” he points out.

A comprehensive report is also given at the end of the assessment.

The PASR provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of what a child has picked up in primary school, says Mohd Satar.

Mohd Satar says that the candidates will receive a physical activity, sports and co-curricular assessment, and psychometric assessment reports as well.

Those who sit for the PASR must be from national, national-type and schools with special needs classes and integrated schools that are following the Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) Special Education also known by its Malay acronym KSSRPK.

Only children who have completed the KSSRPK Level 2 can sit for the assessment.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector assistant director Ku Azman Tuan Mat says candidates must also be in their final year of primary school, and since they have learning disabilities, they are allowed to take the exam between the ages of 12 and 14.

Assessment instruments

Mohd Satar says that the only thing “centralised” in the PASR is the assessment instrument and the scoring rubric used.

The PASR consists of two integrated assessment instruments carried out at the school level, better known as school-based assessments.

Pupils are given eight weeks to complete the instruments known as Special Project (ProKhas) 1 and four weeks to complete ProKhas 2.

ProKhas 1 consists of Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics and Life Skills carried out for eight weeks throughout July and August.

All the subjects are integrated and assessed concurrently through an activity.

Life Skills can be divided into four areas – farming (perkebunan), cooking (masakan), animal husbandry (penternakan) and sewing (jahitan).

For this year, the cooking assessment was based on making, marketing and selling popiah, and it was held in conjunction with Entrepreneur’s Day at the schools.

It is kept very flexible for these pupils as the teacher has a choice of assessing all four life skills or choosing only the best score.

Pupils with special learning needs undergo the PASR at the school level when they finish their primary education. — File photo

“It all depends on the candidate’s capabilities,” he says, adding that the life skill taught to the child would also depend on the facilities available in the school.

He adds that it does not matter how much popiah they sell but rather, whether they can communicate effectively, measure the ingredients correctly, follow the recipe taught to them and count the change meant to be given to their customers.

“What we want to measure is how they fare – whether they can read, write, speak and count correctly, as well as the knowledge, skills and values demonstrated in the 20 constructs in a holistic and integrated assessment,” he adds.

“They need to talk to their customers, they need to design a poster with words to promote their product — these are ways we assess their Bahasa Melayu skills.”


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Special Education School Performance Unsatisfactory- Auditor General’s Report

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

News Pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 (Bernama) – The education performance of special needs students (MBK) at Special Education Schools (SPK) is unsatisfactory, according to the Auditor General’s Report 2015 Series 2.

In an audit carried out in 2014 and 2015, only two (4.3 per cent) of 47 students at the Penang Federal Special Education Secondary School passed their PMR or PT3.

From 2013 till 2015, MBK failed to reach the GPA target in the UPSR and SPM.

“However, MBK’s performance in the Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM) and Skill Development Department (JPK) certificate was good.

“Of the 397 MBK, 375 (95.7 per cent) succeeded in reaching the ’skilled’ level of 60 to 89 per cent; 14 (3.6 per cent) received the performance certificate; and only three (0.8 per cent) failed,” said the report.

According to the report, the ministry in a feedback on Sept 28, 2016, said it had taken a number of measures to improve MBK’s performance in government examinations including their potential to answer questions, through intervention activities in Individual Education Planning which minimises their hindrances.

The ministry also made a headcount of MBK who were targeted to pass and strengthened their achievement capability.

Aside from that, the report said MBK athletes during the same audit period displayed excellence at national level sports through track and field events with 364 participations from 368 targets and setting 18 new records.

The audit scope covered planning, implementation and monitoring on special education management at SPK for 2013 till 2015 in three states, Selangor, Johor and Penang involving six of 33 schools.

The report also found for 2013 till 2015 that the Special Education Division disbursed a management allocation totaling RM76.81 million to the six SPK but the actual expenditure came up to RM79.41 million.

“Overall, the audit carried out in February till May found the special education management to be satisfactory from the aspect of entry or placement of pupils, special education teaching personnel and pupil management assistants as well as class facilities.


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In a class of her own

Sunday, November 6th, 2016
Children gather around Garella (centre) as she gets ready to read a story in the classroom. – AFP

Children gather around Garella (centre) as she gets ready to read a story in the classroom. – AFP

She has Down Syndrome, but a 31-year-old has overcome the odds to become a preschool teacher.

WHEN Noelia Garella was a child, a nursery school rejected her as a “monster.” Now at the age of 31, she is a teacher.

In the face of prejudice, she is the first person with Down syndrome to work as a preschool teacher in Argentina — and one of the few in the world.

Garella’s case set a precedent after the school confronted a taboo: could a person with a cognitive syndrome be in charge of a class?

Her two- and three-year-old pupils crowd around her affectionately in her classroom in the Jermonito nursery. At her bidding, they sit down for a story and watch engrossed as she reads, following her lead as she imitates a shark, baring her teeth.

“I adore this. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a teacher, because I like children so much,” she says.

“I want them to read and listen, because in society people have to listen to one another.”

Garella’s determination inspired her colleagues to hire her at the preschool in the northern city of Cordoba, despite reservations in some quarters.

Garella was hired as a preschool teacher in the kindergaten because of her optimism and fondness for children. – AFP

Garella was hired as a preschool teacher in the kindergaten because of her optimism and fondness for children. – AFP

One party “in a position of responsibility” judged that she should not take classes because of her condition, said Alejandra Senestrari, the former director of the school who hired Garella.

Teachers, parents and even the city’s mayor intervened. They decided there was no reason Garella could not teach early-learning reading classes.

“With time, even those who had been opposed joined in the initiative to hire Noelia as a teacher,” said Senestrari. “We very quickly realised that she had a strong vocation. She gave what the children in the nursery classes most appreciate, which is love.”

A genetic condition, Down syndrome typically affects a person’s physical and intellectual growth.

In Garella’s case, it has done nothing to diminish her optimism and self-belief.

Standing by her side, her mother, Mercedes Cabrera, looks tearful when her daughter tells the story of the day care centre director who told Garella’s parents: “No monsters here.”

But Garella smiles. “That teacher is like a story that I read to the children,” she says.

“She is a sad monster, who knows nothing and gets things wrong. I am the happy monster.”

Lesson in life

Garella’s colleagues have been moved by her case.


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Special kids present musical

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
The children from Taarana School perform a traditional dance with their teachers.

The children from Taarana School perform a traditional dance with their teachers.

HOLDING their concert for the fifth year running, the special needs children from Taarana School put on a spectacular show for their families and well-wishers.

Under the theme, “Cultural Unity” theme, the students went all out with traditional dances.

More than 300 attended the event held at the SJK (C) Chung Kwo auditorium in Kuala Lumpur.

The children’s entertaining performance on stage showed those present what they were capable of.

The Taarana School was established by Vijayaratnam Foundation in 2010 as an educational centre for children with special education needs. The centre is located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor with an enrolment of 42 children.

The Vijayaratnam Foundation is the Malaysian Chapter of the RYTHM Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Qi Group of Companies.

“The students here have been working diligently to put on a good performance for their loved ones during this concert.

“We are very proud of how far they have come, clearly through their dedication towards making this concert a success,” said Vijayaratnam Association chairperson Datin Seri Umayal Eswaran.

She said Taarana hopes to assist the children to assimilate into society and to learn how to be independent.

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Creating awareness on autism

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
Umar performed at the launch of the campaign.

Umar performed at the launch of the campaign.

RAISING an autistic child can be an uphill battle. Apart from the emotional upheavals and costly therapies, families also have to deal with social stigmas and misconceptions, often leaving their child vulnerable to rejection and bullying.

Hoping to end misconceptions and raise awareness of this, CCM Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd (CCMP)’s CHAMPS health supplements launched the ‘Building Love Starts Young’ campaign in partnership with the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom).

The campaign, which aimed to nurture love for children with autism and improve the public’s perception and interaction with those who are autistic, raised a total of RM44,217.50 throughout the campaign period from April to June, 2016.

Speaking at the campaign’s cheque presentation ceremony, Chemical Company of Malaysia Berhad (CCM)’s group managing director Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar commended Nasom for establishing a platform to support the needs of autistic children and adults in the country.

“We are honoured to partner Nasom to promote greater awareness of autism in the country,” he added.

Nasom chairman Feilina S Y Muhammad Feisol thanked CCM for the generous donation, which will fund in-depth training sessions for teachers and help accommodate more students in its early intervention programme.

“Nasom currently has 20 centres across Malaysia, which supports hundreds of students from as young as three to 36 years of age.

“With limited resources and 159 teachers, the waiting list at our centres is quite long.

“Through CCM’s support, we hope to accommodate more students,” said Feilina who has a 19-year-old autistic son.

Among the beneficiaries of Nasom’s early intervention programme is 18-year-old Umar Hasfizal.

Diagnosed with autism when he was just two years old, Umar has since shown impressive development

through the programme.

“Umar showed distinctive signs of autism from a tender age, often avoiding eye contact and found it

difficult to interact with others.

“Upon his diagnosis, my wife and I were in the dark for almost six months, trying to understand and come to terms with what autism was all about,” said Umar’s father, Hasfizal Mukhtar.

Fortunately, Umar was accepted into Nasom’s early intervention programme at the age of three. With the help from teachers and his peers, he assimilated well into the mainstream school system and sat for his SPM examinations last year.

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