135 special education students take part in environmental activities

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 135 special education students from schools in Kota Kinabalu did their part for the nature in the recent Apresiasi Alam programme at Tanjung Lipat beach.

The one-day event saw gotong-royong activities and beach cleanup along the shoreline apart from ecobrick lessons as a measure to save and utilise plastic waste in the area.

Organised by SMK Kolombong’s Special Education Integrated Programme (PPKI), the event was aimed not only at raising environmental awareness and instilling the sense of love and responsibility towards nature, but also develop confidence among students with disabilities.

SMK Kolombong’s Special Education Senior Assistant Alizah Abd Malek said apart from giving them learning experience, the school also hoped to expose the students to the public and allow them to interact and engage with local community.

“We are therefore killing two birds with one stone…we hope these special education students will be able to socialise with the community through this exposure.

“For us under special education, every step is a learning experience. Even one step outside of school is a lesson for our children because that is where they will learn how to interact with others, how to listen to instructions, appreciate the nature, and learn to love everything in their surrounding,” she said.

Following its initiation last year, she stated that the programme had left significant impact among students with some parents telling them that their children had learnt to pick up rubbish from the ground.

This was proof that people with disabilities have equal responsibility and could also play their role in looking after the environment.

“It is actually quite easy to teach these students because they tend to remember and adopt our lessons into their lives, making it a routine after being trained and taught several times inside and outside of school.

“Therefore, we want them to attain inclusion and play their role as well, as citizens of Kota Kinabalu.” Some 75 mainstream students also took part in the initiative which was joined in by SMK Taman Tun Fuad, SMK Inanam, SMK Kolombong, SK Luyang, SK Bukit Padang, SK Kolombong, and SK Tanjung Aru.

With disabilities ranging from autism to cerebral palsy, SMKKolombong PPKI currently has 107 students, 19 teachers, and five assistants, with facilities that include three fish ponds and 12 classrooms for Form 1 to Form 5 students.

Besides skills development classes, students were also required to take up core subjects including Bahasa Melayu, English and Mathematics.

She said elective subjects – pastry, sewing, basic gardening, and beading for low-functioning students – were prioritized, adding that the school had just begin rearing stingless bee.

“These are all one step ahead towards entrepreneurship to train the students so that they would no longer have to rely on job seeking.

“The lessons that we try to deliver were also for those that can be guided by their own parents at home…we want to help them think, what would happen to their children when they are no longer here?

“That is why elective subjects are critical for special education students as it helps them become independent beings,” Alizah said.

In addition to PPKI, she underlined that some of its students with special needs were involved in the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI) where they learn the usual mainstream syllabus and sit for public examinations – PT3 and SPM.

This has resulted in a number of its PPI students pursuing higher education at public and private institutions including Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and AMC College, among others.

She noted, however, that limited options for special education students in Sabah have left them with nowhere to turn to, apart from development centres.

“For our students, we usually enrol them to Cheshire Home – they have this programme with ATI College where they teach pastries, housekeeping and F&B but since seats are limited, we could only assist four to five students.


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