Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pre-school for disabled children in December

Pre-school for disabled children in December Ministry identifying six locations for early childhood education centres Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 15:35 by T.K. Letchumy Tamboo Location: KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA will set up it's first pre-school for disabled children or Taska OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) by year end. Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie told The Malay Mail the government was looking forward to launch at least one such school on Dec 3, in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Heng said the initiative to set up pre-schools for disabled children came from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is also the Women, Family and Community Development minister. "Initially, the initiative was not in the ministry's wishlist to the government for the 2013 Budget but the PM felt there is a need to assist parents with disabled children to have early education and care. "He wanted to ensure everyone, including the disabled, to equally benefit from the prosperous development of the nation," she said. Heng said currently, the ministry was still trying to identify prime locations to build the pre-schools. She said the pre-schools would be built in six different locations, catering to six types of disabilities that included down syndrome, autism, blind or partially sighted, hearing and speaking disabilities, physical disability and learning difficulties. "The ministry has conducted two engagement sessions with the relevant stakeholders and government agencies such as Housing and Local Government Ministry, Health Ministry and Perbadanan Putrajaya to get their views on the mechanism needed to implement this initiative. "From the discussions held on Oct 10 and 17, we have received positive feedbacks and they are interested to support the Taska OKU establishment," she said. Heng said other stakeholders include six non-government organisations (NGOs) representing different type of disabilities namely Down Syndrome Association of Malaysia (PSDM), National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom), Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MDF), Spastic Children's Association of Selangor and Federal Territory, Malaysian Association of the Blind and Dyslexia Association of Malaysia. "In view of this, the NGOs have been requested to come up with proposals for their target groups and submit to us for consideration and approval. "Based on the proposals, we will form a committee to monitor the implementation." At the same time, Heng said the ministry would also appoint an NGO with expertise in early childhood education and care, as a consultant to assist other NGOs in the training, advising as well as on operational matters between six to 12 months. Heng said the pre-schools, which would cater for children below four-years-old, would cost about RM3 million. "Each school is expected to take up RM500,000 to be built with RM350,000 for the setting up and RM150,000 for operational cost," she said. Currently, there are 405,441 people with disabilities registered with the Social Welfare Department (JKM) and out of this figure, 2,288 are children below four. Heng believed there are thousands more unregistered children with disabilities out there, making it difficult for the government to reach out to them.