PILOT PROJECT: Government urged to provide qualified teachers for Taska OKU
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KUALA LUMPUR: THE government's move to create better education opportunities and encourage the disabled towards self-sufficiency was realised with the introduction of Taska OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) in the 2013 Budget.
Malaysian Council for Child Welfare vice-president Datuk Dr Raj Abdul Karim was gratified when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the setting up of preschools for mentally and physically challenged children, starting next year.
"This effort is welcomed by all, especially those from the special needs community," she said.
Najib, who is also finance minister, had announced in the Budget last Friday that the government would implement a pilot project called Taska OKU for six categories of disability -- Down's syndrome, autism, blind or partially sighted, hearing and speaking disabilities, physical disability and learning difficulties.
Dr Raj said the effort must also look into a special teaching syllabus for various disabilities.
"The Education Ministry must also work hand in hand with the Health Ministry to produce qualified teachers who can attend to the needs of the children.
"Therefore, there should be adequate capacity building, monitoring and training for these teachers."
National Parent-Teacher Association president Datuk Mohd Ali Hassan said these kindergartens should also be built in rural areas.
"The urban dwellers already have many facilities. The ones who are always left out of development are the people in the rural areas."
He said this effort would give the disabled a new lease of life, becoming productive individuals to aid the country's growth.
Damai Disabled Persons Association of Selangor and Federal Territory president Murugeswaran Veerasamy said special needs children would be an asset to the country if they were given the right guidance and encouragement.
"A kindergarten for disabled children is definitely a start for them to reach greater heights and the government's acknowledgement of this is lauded."
Murugeswaran said education was the only way for these children to build a brighter future for themselves in this challenging world.
"I hope the government will also look into extending this effort to the primary, secondary and tertiary level for these students."