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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, March 3: The Sarawak government plans to set up a primary school for special children here.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said he had instructed Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah to initiate a study on this proposal.
“I have identified a piece of land suitable for this proposed special primary school. It is very central to Kuching so that people around the city can send their special kids to this school easily.
“The reason why I propose this is because we need teachers who are specially trained in the field of handling special children in terms of mental and health. We are using Australia as a model because they already have this type of special school at the primary level.
“After the children have been rehabilitated at least by 60 per cent, they would be able to go to normal (mainstream) secondary schools,” he told reporters after opening the new Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang Welfare Centre at Jalan Kulas near Satok here this morning.
Abang Johari said he hoped the study would be completed within six months so that he would be able to plan and propose this to the state cabinet.
In his opening address, Abang Johari said due to social stigma, it had always been difficult for special children to mix with other children, especially in mainstream schools.
Because of that, he said he and his cabinet colleagues decided that a special primary school was the best solution to provide them with primary education and to rehabilitate them so that they could live normally and mix with other children later.
Children with special needs are mostly concentrated in densely populated areas such as Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, he shared.
He said this could be due to the lifestyles of urban parents, which may affect the mental development of their children before birth.
If the project is deemed feasible, it would be set up in Kuching first, said Abang Johari.
The RM1 million Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang Welfare Centre spans 0.35 acres. Construction started on Nov 13 last year and completed on Feb 4 to replace the old, dilapidated PDK Sri Satok, which was rented.
The new building was able to be completed in such a short time as it used the Industrialised Building System (IBS) construction method.
The welfare centre currently has 60 registered special needs (OKU) students from Satok constituency. It can also be used by the elderly from Pusat Aktiviti Warga Emas (PAWE), which has 62 members who are from various villages in Satok. — DayakDaily