SMARTER Brunei pushes ahead in drive towards job opportunities for autistic

|     Ishan Ibrahim     |

ONE of the most prominent non-governmental organisations striving tirelessly for the rights, comfort and safety of people with autism in this country has affirmed its primary objective through the voice of Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman, the President and founder of Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei.

During the recent launch of SMARTER Brunei’s Bistro and Café in Kampong Sungai Hanching, Malai Haji Abdullah noted that people with autism are entitled to employment, allowing them to acquire more independence and acceptance among society.

“Since its early days, SMARTER Brunei has made employment for this special group of people a primary objective to generate an inclusive society that is more accepting of people with autism,” he said, adding that while this target would be hard to achieve, it is not altogether impossible.

“As far as people with autism are concerned, there are four types of categories of employment dedicated to them. The first is the apprenticeship programme for 12- to 18-year-old students who will undergo seven types of Competency-Based Training (CBT) programme.

“Sheltered employment is the second category for students who are 18 years and above, where their tasks are simple, repetitive and non-demanding, with no deadlines and non target-orientated. They are sheltered and protected from any kind of work-related stress.

Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei President and founder Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman delivers a speech
Bistro and Café is manned by people with autism assisted by SMARTER Brunei staff. – PHOTOS: ISHAN IBRAHIM

“The third category is the supported employment for students who are 18 years and above, where their working environment is similar to a normal working environment, but with the required high-visual support and structured with clear steps of more than two tasks, as well as set of targets with more complex tasks.

“The last one is the open employment offered to every student of working age who needs minimal supervision and who have the ability to multitask, the initiative and the ability to problem-solve, with appropriate and relevant support,” he explained.

Malai Haji Abdullah said that students of SMARTER Brunei are part of the employment ecosystem in every category “with the exception of open employment, where none as yet have exhibit the competency level required at the optimum level.”

He extended thanks for the efforts and encouragement shown by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

“Added collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism is still in its early stages and encouraging,” he said. “The public also needs to get more involved to make Brunei Darussalam a more inclusive nation, and to ensure no one is left behind.

“I believe that SMARTER Brunei’s Bistro and Café will create a sense of dedication and commitment to entrepreneurship for people with autism, which will make them more productive and inclusive in today’s society.”