Centre brings hope to children with special needs

Fatimah (centre) during a visit to the first One-Stop Early Intervention Centre, today. Also present were Community Wellbeing Assistant Minister Datuk Francis Harden Hollis (second right) and Assistant Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Rosey Yunus (second left). Photo: Bernama

KUCHING: The first One-Stop Early Intervention Centre (Oseic) in Sarawak which started its operations a month ago, has brought new hope to children with special needs in the state.

Situated at MetroCity, Jalan Matang here, the centre, a state government initiative in collaboration with Petronas, will be officially launched on Oct 30.

The centre is one of Petronas several key CSR projects in Sarawak.

Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said initial funding of RM4 million for the project came from Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) and after that, the centre will be funded by the state government.

“Oseic is a project to help those special needs children and its objective was to provide diagnosis, rehabilitation and intervention services under one roof for children with autism, down-syndrome and learning disabilities aged seven years old and below,” she told Bernama in an exclusive interview here.

Fatimah said although there is Agape Centre under Sibu Community Services Association, which currently houses five different organisations running independently in services, management and financial support, Oseic is indeed the first centre in the state providing the services under one roof and is managed by an NGO which is Pibakat.

Fatimah takes a closer look at a poster at the centre during a visit today. Photo: Bernama

“When we visited Genius Kurnia in Kuala Lumpur, we met parents with autistic children from Sarawak who had to transfer to Kuala Lumpur, in order to be able to send their autistic children for intervention programme.

“One mother had to quit her job in Miri just to ensure that she and her husband can stay in Kuala Lumpur and send the autistic son to Genius Kurnia,” she said, adding that with the establishment of such centre in Sarawak, parents with special children do not have to worry about travelling to Kuala Lumpur, spending extra money or quitting their jobs in order to send their children for intervention programme.

“The services are now available in Kuching with affordable fees and for a start 40 children from 40 families have registered with Oseic and we are expecting a lot more to register and benefit from the services provided at this centre,” she said.

Touching on the Penan pre-school project, Fatimah said all the five preschools have started operating since last year with an initial RM2.75 million fund from Petronas.

She said there are 10 trained teachers and 42 children in all the preschools.

According to Fatimah, the ministry started the collaboration with Petronas in 2015, and started with Penan Community Preschools in Baram district at Long Leng, Long Kawa, Long Kerangan, Long Jenalong and Ba’ Selulong, with the objective of providing access, equity and quality preschool education for the Penan children in the interior areas.

“This is the investment that we have made for these children. The results cannot be seen immediately but we do hope to be able to see these children to be successful in education and life, thus able to contribute back to the community and to Sarawak,” she said, adding that more Penan parents are now aware of the importance of education for their children.

Meanwhile Fatimah said presently, the percentage of primary one pupil in Sarawak who has attended early childhood education stood at 97.74 percent or 40,025 out of 40,949 pupils enrolled in 2019 and 97.20 percent or 37,190 out of 38,262 pupils enrolled this year. – Bernama