Entrepreneurial skills for special needs students

|     Hakim Hayat     |

MORE emphasis on basic entrepreneurial skills should be given in the curriculum of special needs students to prepare them to be independent and ready to face real life. This will enable special needs students to be confident and be self-sufficient, the Deputy Minister of Education said.

Datin Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh made these remarks during an event organised by the Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education (MoE) to mark the graduation of some 91 pre-vocational students at The Airport Mall in Berakas yesterday.

The deputy minister said with the current curriculum for special needs students in government secondary schools and through collaborations with the private sector and selected industries, students with special needs have been exposed to various skills to boost their marketability in the job market.

“Among the skills taught are vegetable harvesting through fertigation (fertilisation and irrigation) technology and also sales activities that have garnered a good response,” she said.

The deputy minister urged students to take advantage of the opportunities provided to them by becoming more creative and innovative in diversifying the acquired skills, to allow them to be more self-sustainable and confident.

She also told them to be optimistic when venturing into fields of their capabilities, especially in entrepreneurship.

As part of MoE’s efforts to enhance the teaching and learning quality for special needs students, the deputy minister also highlighted their continuous focus on professional development in pre-vocational education for its teachers, in ensuring that they have the latest skills to adapt to the current needs.

She said 52 teachers have completed a workshop on Braille Code Level II, apart from other professional development courses such as orientation and mobility, life-skills and teaching strategies for visually impaired students.

Datin Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh, Deputy Minister of Education addressing the audience
Datin Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh, Deputy Minister of Education in a group photo with students who joined the Reading and Braille Typing Competition
ABOVE & BELOW: Deputy Minister of Education presenting certificates to the recipients. – PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI

The deputy minister said 1,005 differently abled students with special needs are studying in inclusive learning environments in government secondary schools nationwide since 2017.

She said eight students with special needs are pursuing higher education in local higher education institutions nationwide and called on students with special needs to take heed of this.

Datin Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah said she hopes it will inspire them to excel, despite the challenges.

Ninety-one students who recently completed the five-year Pre-Vocational Programme between 2013 and 2017 received certificates from the deputy minister who was the guest of honour.

She also presented prizes to the top three winners of a Braille Code Reading Competition held recently to mark World Braille Day 2018. Certificates of appreciation were also presented to two Home Room Teachers and five Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) teachers who retired from service.

Seventeen companies were also praised and awarded with appreciation certificates for their support and partnership in providing work placements for students in the Pre-Vocational Programme.

Haji Ali Yusri bin Haji Abdul Ghafor, Acting Head of the Special Education Unit earlier in his speech said the Pre-Vocational Programme is a five-year secondary school programme designed to meet the needs of students with special needs who have limited skills in domains such as academic, social and communication, physical, sensory and independent living.

He added that the programme is an alternative pathway designed to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities who possess very modest cognitive and academic abilities.

The programme sets out to maximise the potential of students with special needs so that they are able to acquire various living skills and basic vocational skills, to empower them to become independent.

The five-year programme includes basic academic, visits on career exploration and preparation for Years 7, 8 and 9; Career placement and career awareness for Year 10 and Career specialisation placement and follow up in Year 11.

Facilitated by the Home Room Teachers (HRT), specialised classrooms within 28 secondary school settings are used for the Pre-Vocational Programme.

Students spend the majority of their time in the specialised classrooms but are also encouraged to join other students from mainstream classes during co-curricular activities, break times and assembly.

Yesterday’s event also saw an exhibition featuring a variety of works by students of the Pre-Vocational Programme from 22 secondary schools.

The exhibition included hand-crafted items, fresh produce grown in gardens and greenhouses and food products.