MoE needs more special education teachers

National 2 minutes, 27 seconds


THERE are 3,700 students with special needs at primary and secondary schools.

“And the main challenge is that majority of schools do not have the service of Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) teachers,” said the Ministry of Education’s Permanent Secretary (Core Education), Dr Hj Junaidi Hj Abd Rahman yesterday.

Dr Hj Junaidi said that of that number, “1,800 have intellect disorders, sensory disorders in hearing and seeing, physical disability, speech and communication problems, emotional and behavioural problems and other health problems”.

The rest which have weak learning capabilities are attending additional programmes in Mathematics and Malay Language, which are being conducted at government primary schools.

Acting Head of the ministry’s Special Education Unit (SEU), Pg Sarimah Pg Hj Ahmad, said with schools having many special needs students, additional SENA teachers are required.

“Currently there are only 140 SENA teachers still serving in primary and secondary schools – 113 at primary schools and 27 at secondary schools. Of the 40 schools which do not get the service of SENA teachers, 25 are primary and 15 are secondary ones,’’ she said.

As a result of a series of visits conducted by the SEU to almost more than 60 primary and secondary schools over a period of 14 months since last year, the complaint raised by school leaders is the shortage of SENA teachers in handling the growing number of special needs students every year.

Due to the lack of SENA teachers, the SEU conducted a Short Introductory Course in Inclusive Education for 67 primary and secondary teachers beginning in February until this month.

The course was aimed to make up for the shortage of SENA teachers in schools by equipping regular subject teachers with the knowledge and skills required to deal with special need students so that they would get the necessary support and aid in their learning.

The participants of the course were then appointed as Learning Support Teachers (LST).

Dr Hj Junaidi suggested for every school leader and LST to be more proactive and give top priority in drawing up action plans to identify the educational needs of students, particularly those facing the challenge of trying to master the basic skill of literacy and numeracy.

“If learning support and conducive learning environment or intervention programmes could be implemented at an early stage, say, at Year One, Two and Three, I am sure the pupils would be able to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic sufficiently well as well as gaining a sound foundation of education and they will not be left behind when they advance to the next levels,’’ he said.

“At the secondary level, the role of LST is pivotal in providing support to students, who are still weak in certain skills, through the modification and adaptation of curriculum method, providing specific resources, teaching techniques and other special needs,’’ he added.

Participants at the course were yesterday awarded certificates by Dr Hj Junaidi in a ceremony held at the Rimba II Primary School.

The Brunei Times