Petronas contributes RM4 mil to set up one-stop centre for special children

Zulaihi (3rd right) handed over the mock-cheque to the ministry, witnessed by Fatimah (4th left) and others.

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Mar 17: Malaysia’s giant oil company Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) has contributed RM4 million to Sarawak government to set up a One-Stop Early Intervention Centre (OSEIC) for young children with autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome and learning disability.

Petronas Sarawak general manager Zulaihi Mohd Mantali said the centre will provide early diagnosis, intervention and rehabilitation for children who have developmental delays or are at risk for delays.

“We are glad that Petronas can contribute back to the society in one way or another,” Zulaihi said after the Memorandum of Agreement ceremony between the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development, Society for Parents of Children with Special Needs’ (Pibakat) and Petronas today.

The 30,000-square-feet facility, located at Metrocity, Jalan Matang will be equipped with a diagnostic centre, an early intervention centre, a pre-school, a play area, and a therapy centre.

As a developer, Chong Kia Hoi Reality Sdn Bhd director Datuk Chong Kia Hoi said he is glad that they too can assist to provide a space for the state government to set up OSEIC at Metrocity.

“We’ve leased a block of building for them, with special rental and a term of five years, which is renewable for another five years in the future. If there is any need arises in the future, they can increase the space,” Chong said.

He added that Matrocity has ample parking spaces, restaurants, shops, community centre and other necessities which are ideal for parents who will accompany their children to the centre.

Meanwhile, Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the state needed such centre to diagnose, intervene and rehabilitate children with the above disorder.

Thanking Petronas and Chong for working together with the state government, she said it has been well established that early intervention stands as the most effective educational programme with a significant impact on behavioural problems and abilities.

“Early interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome and learning disability can lead to meaningful developmental gains in cognitive ability, communication skills, and reduced symptoms.

“If these children can be given interventions as early as possible, the chance of rehabilitation will be much higher. That is why we need to set up OSEIC,” she asserted.

Although this could be very challenging because many teachers and childcare providers are reluctant to have a child with delayed development or special needs, Fatimah assured that teachers at OSEIC will undergo specialised professional training.

She further explained that those teachers or childcare providers play a crucial role towards ensuring the success of OSEIC. They will also be trained to screen children to identify their needs.

Pibakat has been assigned to manage the OSEIC centre. Its president Zaidi Ahmad said their mammoth task starts tomorrow where the building will undergo renovation.

It expected to complete by end of May and they hope to operate by June. — DayakDaily