Impacting the lives of young people with learning disabilities

By Patricia Hului
[email protected]



Trainees (in pink shirts) celebrating their completion of the English Language Literacy Empowerment Programme with a mini convocation.


It’s never too late to learn or make a difference in your life, no matter what your circumstances.

Earlier this month, 15 young people with learning disabilities had a ‘mini convocation’ after finishing the eight-month English Language Literacy Empowerment Programme 2015.

Launched last March, the programme was organised to impact the lives of young people with learning disabilities and increase their chances of gainful employment and entrepreneurship endeavours.



Nur Amira Amit


Trainee representative, Nur Amira Amit shared that he was reluctant to join the programme at first.

“Then I found this was an opportunity to improve my English ability and make it better than before.”

The group of students were trainees at community-based rehabilitation centres (PDK) in Kota Samarahan. Their disabilities included cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, speech-impairments, learning disabilities and suspected undiagnosed dyslexia.

The programme was an initiative of University-Community Transformation Centre (UCTC) of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) smart and strategic partnership with state social welfare department PDK Samarahan, Dyslexia Association of Sarawak, Enactus Unimas Society and Tun Abdul Razak Teacher-Training Institute.



Assoc Prof Dr Ong Puay Hoon


According to the head of the programme, Assoc Prof Dr Ong Puay Hoon, the reading programme has been used effectively to teach young students with dyslexia and those who are undergoing remedial education to learn to read and write.

“There is an increase in the number of words read and spelt correctly in a timed interval and reading comprehension ability of the participants shown through an analysis of average scores of pre-test, progressive test and post tests,” Ong said of the trainee’s performance.

She pointed out that the method they used throughout the eight-month course was sequential, explicit, cumulative, phonics-based to master and use multisensory activities such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile.

“Some of the participants have expressed reduced phobia for the English language and an increased interest to read books in English.”

The method employed in the programme is also to train the teachers in PDK Samarahan and student volunteers from Enactus Unimas Society and Tun Abdul Razak Teacher-Training Institute to train others with learning disabilities.

“I began to enjoy how Dr Ong and trainers taught us,” Nur Amira said. “They used simple techniques easy for us to understand and learning was fun.”

Nur Amira said the group learned through songs and stories; they even had a camp at Wisma Wanita.

He said that he and his friends  were happy to take part in the programme and that four members in the group could now read better while another four were able to arrange alphabets and pronounce some words correctly.

“I hope the programme will be continued so that other trainees will have the chance to read and converse in English,” he stated.



Amira receiving his certificate from Fatimah (second right).


The mini convocation cum closing ceremony was held at Dewan Suarah Kota Samarahan and attended by Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Sarawak Datuk Fatimah Abdullah where she handed each trainee a certificate of participation and a set of books.



The trainees getting ready for their performance.


The trainees also did a special performance where they sang ‘Won’t Go Home Without You’ by Maroon 5.

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