| Danial Norjidi |
A SEMINAR and workshop on students’ Malay literacy organised by the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education came to a close yesterday.
The four-day event titled ‘National Seminar and Workshop on the Integrated Sound-Word Approach to Address Malay Literacy Difficulties Among Students’, was held with the aim of helping teachers to develop their skills in remediating literacy difficulties among students, particularly those with special needs.
Leading the workshop was Professor Emeritus Dato’ Dr Isahak Haron, an invited consultant who is currently a senior research fellow from the Faculty of Education in the University of Malaya, Malaysia. He was previously an advisor in developing the initial “Integrated Sound-Word Approach Package” – a set of guidelines, learning and assessment methods used as reference materials by SENA (Special Education Needs Assistant) teachers to improve Malay literacy among students. This package was distributed to every primary school with a SENA teacher in November 2013.
The closing ceremony saw the attendance of Pg Sarimah binti Pg Hj Ahmad, the Acting Head of Special Education Unit, who is also the chairperson of the seminar’s organising committee, as the guest of honour.
Also present were the workshop’s 55 participants, comprised of SENA and home room teachers as well as officers from the Special Education Unit, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The proceedings began with Professor Emeritus Dato’ Dr Isahak reflecting on the contents of the seminar and workshop, highlighting that the Integrated Sound-Word Approach is “simple, easy to use and effective to teach reading and writing skills, especially for students with Malay literacy difficulties.”
He went on to advise teachers to follow the teaching steps as demonstrated during the workshop.
“Teachers should teach these students at least three times a week for 30 minutes in each session. This will allow students to have continuous learning experiences,” he said, emphasising that students should be taught to their level of ability, and that “it is important that they enjoy learning”.
A speech was also delivered by a participant representative, who said that the seminar and workshop proved to be of great benefit to the SENA teachers.
“I will be able to apply the strategies taught as they are relevant and effective for students who have reading difficulties in Malay,” she said. “These strategies will assist students to master reading and writing skills in a systematic and sequential manner.
“I particularly like the diagnostic tool which can be used to accurately assess students’ reading ability as well as identify any specific areas of difficulty.”
The event came to an end after the guest of honour presented certificates to the participants.
Meanwhile, the Special Education Unit stated, “It is expected that the participants will become resource teachers or mentors in assisting other teachers develop their teaching skills in remediating Malay literacy difficulties among students.
“This is consistent with the strategic plan of the Ministry of Education for 2012-2017 which has identified teaching and learning excellence, professionalism and efficiency as well as innovativeness as the areas of focus in its five-year plan.”