SMARTER Brunei praised for work

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei received a visit at the SMARTER Edge Centre by officials from the Asia-Pacific Centre on Disability (APCD) yesterday.

The visitors were received by SMARTER President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman, and were given a briefing on the organisation, its initiatives and activities.

They were then taken on a tour of the centre and its facilities, including classes for Early Development as well as Independent Living Skills.

Project Manager of the Autism Mapping Project in the ASEAN Region for the APCD Pongwattana Charoenmayu spoke to the Bulletin, and explained that the APCD’s visit to Brunei is part of an autism mapping project created by the ASEAN Secretariat. One aspect of this project is to support foundations and organisations focuDsed on autism, he said.

“That’s why we come here to learn what this foundation is doing, and we found that it is very, very advanced.”

SMARTER Brunei President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman takes Project Manager of Autism Mapping Project in the ASEAN Region for Asia-Pacific Centre on Disability, Pongwattana Charoenmayu, on a tour of the SMARTER Edge Centre facilities. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

He shared that he has been to five other ASEAN member countries before this, with Brunei being the sixth. “I found that this centre is the most advanced, and I think that the other foundations in the other countries should come here to learn something.”

Adding on with regards to what he saw during the visit to the SMARTER Edge centre, he said he was “very, very impressed.”

Malai Haji Abdullah shared that SMARTER Brunei has collaborated with APCD for more than eight years.

“Brunei is a founding member of the ASEAN Autism Network, which was established in December 2010, so we have been collaborating ever since then,” he said.

He noted that he has been inviting organisations from ASEAN countries to visit Brunei and see what SMARTER Brunei has and whether or not it can be replicated.

He highlighted the importance of replication rather than duplication, as simply duplicating what works in one country may not work in another.

“What you can do is replicate. That means bring what is good back to your country and develop for your own country,” he said, adding that the idea is for other organisations to match it with their own countries’ respective culture and infrastructure.