KUCHING: The Dyslexia Association of Sarawak (DASwk) is raising funds for its new centre to be named the Dyslexia Institute of Sarawak.

The new premises will be located at a 1.5-acre plot of land in Desa Wira, Batu Kawa here, which was designated to DASwk by the state government in 2016.

The current DASwk Learning and Resource Centre in Jalan Maxwell, Kuching.
Yong (left) with Sipar Association in Cambodia.

DASwk vice-president Wallace Lee Boon Liang revealed that the initial project proposal was RM7 million, but the association had recently redrawn the plans, trimming down the cost to approximately RM3.5 million.

“This excludes other expenses for equipment, materials and resources which are much needed as well,” he highlighted
during an interview with New Sarawak Tribune.

“Over the last four years, we have raised an estimated RM500,000 for the project. We are still short but we are confident that we will be able to get the necessary funds,” Lee said, appealing for donations to this noble cause from corporate bodies and individuals.

According to DASwk member Dick Yong, the association has an existing Learning and Resource Centre in Jalan Maxwell — a small building which may be limiting the number of dyslexic children that can be reached out to.

One of the key activities carried out by DASwk is its intervention programme whereby children diagnosed with dyslexia are brought to the Learning and Resource Centre for a period of three months to prepare them for school using specially-designed teaching strategies which work best with their unique needs.

“The current centre only has two classrooms and no hostel,” stated Yong.

“It is important that we have more classrooms, about 18, and a hostel to house children brought in from the rural areas to undergo the three-month intervention programme,” he said. A greater number of classrooms are required as teaching is conducted on a one-to-one or one-to-two basis.

Besides these facilities, Lee added that the new centre would include an admin block and a vocational block to enable the teaching of life skills to dyslexics of 18 years and older.

“Our projection is to have the building by 2022, but this very much depends on financial capabilities,” he stated.

Yong stressed that a lot of the children who would greatly benefit from the services of DASwk are from the rural regions, hence making the new institute even more crucial.

He mentioned that after the three months, the students are then placed back in their original schools with the improved ability to read and hence better grasp what is taught.

Yong revealed that some donations have been coming in, with even the US and German embassies
lending a helping hand.

He believed that these donations in particular could be due to his initiative called “Ride for Dyslexia” — a solo motorbike journey around the world in efforts to raise awareness on dyslexia.

Yong started his solo journey in late November last year, thus far covering Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and India, at which point his bike broke down. Returning to Kuching for spare parts for his bike, he will be resuming his journey within this week.

“In every country that I visit, I stop by at institutions and associations, or I get in touch with the Ministry of Education.

“I give talks to the teachers — for example about dyslexia diagnosis and teaching methods that work best with dyslexic children,” he said.

According to him, many third-world communities are unaware of dyslexia, being surprised once he informs them of the disorder.

“Feedback has been great so far, people have even been emailing me to ask more about dyslexia,” Yong disclosed.

This cause is especially meaningful to him, having dyslexia himself. He along with DASwk are determined to break misconceptions surrounding dyslexia.

He cited that one in 10 children is dyslexic, making it a fairly common disorder.

Corporate or private donations are highly appreciated by DASwk. For those who wish to donate or enquire more, the association can be contacted during office hours at 082-242 900 or via e-mail (dyslexiaswk@gmail.com).

Information is also available at DASwk’s website at http://www.dyslexia-swk.com.