SEU, APTK to help pra-voc students find suitable jobs

National 2 minutes, 26 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Special Education Unit (SEU) at the Ministry of Education has started informal discussions with a government agency specialising in workforce development to match pre-vocational (pra-voc) programme students with suitable jobs.

“Previously, the programme was for slow learners or those with learning problems.

“Now it includes those with severe learning disabilities,” Ampuan Hjh Lilimaryani Ampuan Hj Salleh, a special education coordinator, told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the third ASEAN Disability Forum.

Twenty-three schools are participating in the five-year pre-vocational programme for Year 7 until Year 11 students. This year, 279 students are taking part in the programme.

According to Ampuan Hjh Lilimaryani, the SEU also plans to work closely with the Local Work Agency and Workforce Development (APTK) at the Ministry of Home Affairs with giving talks and advising pre-vocational programme students about work.

The majority of students who undergo the pre-vocational programme are working in the private sector.

The lack of teachers with relevant skills to teach students with special needs was also raised by another officer.

Special Education CoordinatorNorashikin Hj Sharbawi said: “Most of the teachers who help aren’t from the SEU itself.

Even the experts in the unit who specialise in fields are not enough. There are only two officers who specialise in dyslexia to cater to all primary and secondary schools. That is not enough.”

Those at the school in charge of the programme are called “homeroom teachers”.

These teachers are trained by the SEU on how best to handle the students and on ways to come up with strategies to teach students with a range of learning abilities.

Students who undergo the programme do not sit for an exam but are required to undergo a job placement in their final year.

On completion of the job placement, they are given a certificate of participation.

Norashikin admitted that potential employers were generally looking for O level or A level qualifications.

“When they do their job attachment they have to prove themselves capable. If the company or the manager or supervisor is impressed with them they are given a job on completion of the programme,” she said.

Students who complete the programme are usually assigned “minimal” jobs with the Postal Services Department, printing companies, restaurants or hotels.

There are “success” stories such as those who find work on their own by setting up their own carwash or selling vegetable-based noodles.

The main concern of parents is whether or not their children will be able to secure a job after completing the five-year pre-vocational programme.

“Once they enter the programme there is no guarantee of a job. Parents have to work hard and help to find a job for their children,” Norashikin said.

While students with learning difficulties are evaluated by psychologists and advised on whether to join the programme, parental consent is required.

“If the parents says no they go into mainstream classes,” Ampuan Hjh Lilimaryani said.

The Brunei Times