Educating special needs students
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
AN AVERAGE of about 100 children with special needs are referred to the Special Education Unit every year.
Pg Sarimah Pg Hj Ahmad, the unit’s acting head, said there are about 4,100 special needs students in primary and secondary schools as well as higher education institutions.
In a recent e-mail interview, she said the Special Education Unit will do all it can to meet their learning needs by delivering appropriate support services and programmes.
Pg Sarimah said the needs of special students vary and may range from those who experience learning difficulties, speech and language problems, sensory or physical impairments, medical or health issues, as well as those who are gifted.
The unit is working with other government agencies and organisations to ensure consistency in the provision of support services for students with multiple or complex needs, she said.
“The Special Education Unit meets regularly with the Child Development Centre, Ministry of Health and the Community Development Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to assist students who had been identified with needs or issues within the domains of learning, family, school, health and the wider community.
From these regular meetings, the unit is able to identify children with special needs at an early age and ensure support services and programmes are provided adequately to support their learning and social needs in mainstream or regular schools,” she continued.
She said the curriculum, assessment, learning resources will also be tailored to the varying needs of special needs students.
The acting head went on to say that it is important for schools, parents and teachers to be committed in promoting an education system that respects differences, support learning for everyone and responds to individual needs.
“This commitment will further enhance and promote sustainable development in the area of inclusive education and reflects the commitment that it takes a whole community to educate a child,” she said.
Pg Sarimah added that workshops can be also organised for parents to raise awareness and equip them with skills to assist students with special needs. “This will promote social inclusiveness for all.”
Meanwhile, she said intervention programmes will also be continuously monitored by school principals.
Pg Sarimah said principals play an important role in ensuring the successful implementation of special education programmes and improve accessibility in schools.
Recently, the Special Education Unit published the School-Based Team Guidebook to enhance knowledge and understanding so that appropriate programmes and support services can be put in place.
She said the handbook will serve as a reference to all members of the school in carrying out their roles.
In addition, the unit had organised sharing sessions on strengthening the role of school-based teams in all four districts in February 2015.
Next year, more guidebooks are expected to be published such as the Curriculum Guide for Students with Special Needs, Picture Exchange Communication System Guidebook, Guidebook for Dyslexia and books printed in braille – “Bacalah Anakku”, and Early Reading Series.
Moreover, the unit has collaborated with teachers to develop teaching aid materials that would help special needs students’ learning.
She said this would lead to effective teaching practices that cater to the needs of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms.
“It would be ideal to document best practices and innovative teaching approaches that worked well in the schools by setting up model classes and sharing success stories. This will help to promote school and community awareness about inclusive/special education and its best practices,” she added.
Pg Sarimah said inclusive education practices will help fulfil students’ potential by offering them appropriate educational programmes that meet their individual needs.
“In doing so, this will help ensure students with special needs become valued, independent and life-long learners as well as become contributing members of the society.”
The Brunei Times