KUCHING: Integrating students with special needs with their normal peers not only allows the former to learn faster but also instils empathy in the latter.
Minister for Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said special needs children must not be looked at or treated differently.
“We need to integrate them with normal students so that they will not feel different and are able to integrate into society.”
Fatimah was speaking at the opening of the Special Education Integrated Programme (SEIP) for special needs children at SJK Chung Hua No. 1 here today.
At the same time, she said integrating special needs students with normal students would also be beneficial for the normal students.
“The normal students may look at disabled children differently, but as time goes by, they become familiar and they can be more empathetic.
“Having the feeling of empathy is important because this is the kind of value we want to see in every individual as Sarawak progresses to become a developed state by 2030.”
She said instilling empathy must start from young and hence she was delighted to see SJK Chung Hua No. 1 doing as such.
“There are 5,576 special needs students in government schools – 14 pre-schools, 136 primary schools, and 61 secondary schools.
“While for SJK Chung Hua, there are 376 special needs students with one pre-school having seven students while there are 369 special needs students in 17 primary schools.”
On another note, she said there was a need to empower children with special needs, and one of the ways was through sports.
“Under our ministry, we are very committed to providing access, but also to enable children with special needs to excel in sports,” she said, while adding that special needs children who like sports could venture into sports.
She added that these children could be trained and the potential ones could participate in the Special Olympics or Sukma Para Games.
Also present was Datuk Jonathan Chai Voon Tok, the chairman of the Management Committee, Kuching Chung Hua Primary Schools No. 1 to No. 6.