Special needs students in need of vocational schools
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
Although there may be therapy centres for students with disabilities, Sarawak is yet to have special vocational schools dedicated specifically for those with special needs.
Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah proposed that the federal government establish special vocational schools for students with special needs as they needed an avenue to hone their skills.
“They have vocational schools in the Peninsular, but not in Sabah and Sarawak,” said Fatimah during a closing ceremony of Sarawak Special Needs Art and Cultural Carnival 2015 at Unimas on August 28.
“So, we are urging the federal government to establish one in Sarawak as there are also students with special needs that are interested in this field just like other students,” she said.
Currently, there are about 3,636 students in Sarawak with special needs under the Special Integration Programme (PPKI) 2015.
Fatimah, who is the minister in charge of education in the state, also revealed that there were 11 special schools with 12 classes, 12 teachers and 33 students in Sarawak under PPKI, and for primary schools there were 113 schools with 350 classes and 574 teachers and 2, 215 students.
At the secondary school level, she said there were 49 schools with 164 classes divided into 136 classes for learning difficulties, 19 classes for hearing difficulties and nine classes for vision difficulties, with 246 teachers and 1,421 students.
According to Fatimah, from January to August this year, 1,930 people with special needs registered with the Community Welfare Department (JKM). The accumulated total registered with the Sarawak Welfare Department comes up to 46,096.
Fatimah encouraged parents to send their children to Community Rehabilitation Centres (PDK), where rehabilitation and therapy services to disabled people (OKU) are provided.
“To improve the services at PDK, we have proposed to the state government to allocate fund to have therapist in PDK since as of now we are depending on therapist from the Health Department,” said Fatimah.
According to Fatimah, the department has been receiving seven application for three occupation therapists, and 72 applications for three speech therapists and three physiotherapists.
In her speech, Fatimah advised parents of children with special needs to not only recognise their children’s disability but also their abilities.
“While recognising the disability among our children, and attending to their needs, we should also look at their abilities, discover and build up their potential and train them to their maximum,” said Fatimah.
“Make our environment more friendly for those with special needs, break down the barrier, include our children with others, so we can co-exist harmoniously together because the barriers, let it be physical, mental, social are broken down,” she added.
The carnival was co-organized by Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Sarawak and SMK Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Gapor, Stampin from Kuching, Sarawak with collaboration of Unimas, participated by 227 students.