Government should provide education allowances for special needs children

National 1 minute, 23 seconds


THE government should provide education allowances for special needs children to undertake specialised therapy at private institutions, said a representative from the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER).

Sharifah Adila Surya, SMARTER’s assistant director of administration, suggested this provision be included in the upcoming Disability Order, which is still in the drafting process.

“There is a lack of specialised trainers to teach people with autism, down syndrome and other disabilities, and the government also does not possess the adequate human resources to address the issue,” she told The Brunei Times recently.

“Institutions like SMARTER charge $120 a month, and Learning Ladders also has monthly fees for its students, so if the government can provide allowances to students in mainstream schools, why not support people with special needs?”

The Disability Order will address 10 key areas – access to education, health, advocacy, protection of persons with disabilities, employment, financial security, participation, volunteering and accessibility to transportation and infrastructure. Sharifah said although the Ministry of Education is trying to promote “inclusive education” by incorporating special needs students into mainstream classes at public schools, these classes sometimes cannot address the specific needs of children with learning disabilities. She added that there have been cases of youth with learning disabilities pursuing higher education, and that the government should support this via scholarships.

“There are cases of people with Down Syndrome and autism pursuing degrees, but not all of them come from privileged backgrounds and can afford to pay for university,” Sharifah said.

“Especially if they want to undertake a course in special education, those kind of courses are not offered locally.”

The Brunei Times