(Right)Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Shah Alam trains students to be self-sufficient in the future.

KUALA LUMPUR : THE Education Ministry is holding true to its promise of increasing access to education for all, by giving due attention to special needs students and continually finding ways to improve special education.

With 78,310 special needs students in the country registered with the ministry up till today, the ministry and the government are not hesitant to invest in them with hopes that they will in the future be among contributors to a greater Malaysia.

A spokesperson for the Special Education Division said, since 1990, Malaysia had been showing significant progress in special education, primarily on its curriculum, teacher supply, pedagogy, as well as the establishment of the Special Education Department, which has now become the Special Education Division, a clause on special education in the Education Act 1996 and the introduction of the Education Rules (Special Education) 1997.

“Currently, we have special needs students in 34 special education schools, 2,272 national schools that offer the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) and 4,995 national schools that offer the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI).”

The PPKI sees special needs students study in the same school as mainstream students but in different classes, while the PPI sees special needs students immersed with mainstream students in the same classes.

The Special Education Division was in charge of special education schools which are made up of 28 Sekolah Kebangsaan Pendidikan Khas, two Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas and four Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional nationwide.

“Education Rules (Special Education) 2013 defined special needs students as those among six categories, which are hearing-impaired, sight-impaired, speech-impaired, physically-impaired, learning difficulties and multiple disabilities.

“The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) also called for increasing enrolment of special needs students in the PPI by improving the quality of the programme offer holistically.”

With the aim to produce quality human capital, special needs students are not trained to just follow instructions but to also have knowledge, skills and good character, constantly be on the road to self-improvement and have the ability to work with minimal supervision.

In relation to achieving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) and producing an excellent younger generation in 30 years to come, teachers must be creative in educating students, including special needs students.

“The mode of learning for every special needs students is different and they need well-planned, relevant and realistic pedagogy modifications.

“Teachers must be the thinkers of pedagogy in planning, moulding and producing dynamic approaches to the teaching and learning process.”

Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Shah Alam is one of the four special education schools that specialises in vocational education.

The school’s administration senior assistant, Khairulanuar Suhib, said the school offered 10 courses for special needs students, including desktop publishing, hairdressing, housekeeping operation, furniture production and operation, as well as batik production and operation.

“All our courses have been certified by the Skills Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) and consists of three phases.

“The school currently has 205 students, where 101 of them have learning disabilities, 97 have hearing disabilities, six have multiple disabilities and one has physical disabilities.”

The classes, he said, have an average of eight students and two teachers, making it easier for lessons to be individualised and focused on each student.

The teaching and learning process ensured that every student is given their own time and space to learn according to their own ability and not more than that.

In addition to specialised classes and top-notch teachers, special needs students are also given allowances of RM150 a month, which adds up to RM1,800 every year for each student.

“One hundred per cent of their food is sponsored while they are in school and they can even go back home from their hostels every week.

“To go to school, they only need to bring personal belongings, other than that, the ministry has been gracious enough to sponsor,” he said.

Overall, the infrastructure, financial aid, class lessons, and teaching staff given to special needs students are of the highest quality.

Khairulanuar was adamant that the millions spent by the government anually on special education will bear fruit by them becoming holistic human beings for the betterment of the country.

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