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National Seminar & Workshop

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A national seminar and workshop for special education staff opened yesterday to review issues, challenges and barriers to ensure access to quality education for all.

The seminar, themed "Embracing Diversity: Effective Inclusive Schools", is jointly organised by the Special Education Unit and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

The two-day seminar aims to share information and experiences on current trends, best practices and development on special education, review issues and progress of special education programmes and highlight directions for the future.

Datin Paduka Hjh Apsah Hj Abdul Majid, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, officially opened yesterday's workshop as the guest of honour.

Also invited was expert speaker Dr Lori Bradshaw from the United States, who is working as a consultant in special education in Doha, Qatar.

The 500 participants are teachers, principals, primary and secondary SENA teachers, and officers from ministries.

The chief guest said "equality of opportunity and educational excellence" are the key goals for Brunei's 21st Century Education System (SPN 21) - the latest initiative by the government to ensure all children have the opportunity to realise their potential. And to achieve this, she said the relevant educators and policy makers must be kept up to date on relevant practices that are in line with inclusive educational principles. Schools play a primary role in providing quality inclusive education, however, the learning environment must meet the educational needs of all participants, including those with disabilities or special needs, she said.

As of today, significant progress has been made with the establishment of Model Inclusive Schools providing Excellent Services for Children. Selected primary and secondary schools have been allocated additional funding and support to ensure they have the necessary facilities, equipment and human resource.

"Students enrolled at these schools who require a high level of support will have Individual Educational Plans designed to address their difficulties. Their individual learning needs will be met through adaptation and or modification of the curriculum.
Students with hearing, visual or communication problems will have access to specialised equipment and software that will enable them to carry out reading, writing and other learning tasks previously difficult or impossible for them.

Furthermore, the 1994 Salamanca Statement, which Brunei agreed to at the UNESCO World Conference on Special Needs Education, highlighted the need for "a continuum of support and services match the continuum of special needs encountered in every school".

"Various external government and community agencies have an important role to play. Officers from the Child Development Centre at the Ministry of Health have been working collaboratively with staff from the Special Education Unit under the Ministry of Education to help address the needs of students with severe disabilities.

Early Intervention Programmes exist, and are delivered by the Child Development Centre for children with special needs who are under the age of six. And students or adults with high support needs are able to enrol in a day centre run by the Community Development Department, under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, she said.

Source : Borneo Bulletin 23rd July 2008
Reports : Ben Ng

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