SIBU: Twenty-six participants attended a five-day Inclusive Preschool Short Course jointly organised by Methodist Pilley Institute (MPI) & National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) from May 27 to 31.
The participants were childcare providers at kindergartens, teachers at secondary schools and childcare providers at other institutions in Sibu, Sarikiei, Bintulu, Mukah, Sri Aman and Kuching.
The course was conducted by two experienced special and inclusive education teachers, namely Chew Siok Cheng and Ng Lai Thin.
The course, which focused on the Inclusive Education Training Module developed by NECIC, aimed to develop an inclusive mindset in preschool teachers, to develop reflective practice in them and provide them with evidence-based and practical knowledge of inclusive preschooling.
Vice president of NECIC Dr Toh Teck Hock described this first batch of participants as pioneers in inclusive education.
He compared preschool and inclusive education to the construction of a strong foundation for a building; though often left unnoticed, its impact on the life of a person was profound and long lasting.
Principal of Methodist Pilley Institute Hii King Kai highlighted the dire need for trained teachers in inclusive education for children with disabilities.
He said there might be more children with disabilities among us who had not yet been diagnosed.
“In future, MPI will incorporate inclusive education in the Diploma in Early Childhood Education programme syllabus so every ECE students will have practical knowledge and skills in dealing with children with disabilities,” he added.
Interest in inclusive education has increased in recent years in Malaysia. There is a huge gap in teacher training and professional development.
Methodist Pilley Institute and NECIC hope to fill the gap by organising more short courses on inclusive education in order to help early childhood education teachers cope better with the needs of children with disabilities in their classrooms.