Preschool set up for special kids

Amirudin (right) observing a sensory play session at Anis Preschool Centre. Beside him is Dr Siti Mariah (in green headscarf). – KK SHAM/The Star

STATE agency Anis (Anak Istimewa Selangor) Department needs to assess the sustainability of the Anis Preschool Centre pilot project in Shah Alam before considering its expansion to other local councils in Selangor.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said, “We don’t want this to be a one-off project.

“We also need to factor in the cost (of running the preschool) and selection (of preschool candidates) based on income groups.”

Amirudin was speaking during the opening ceremony of the Anis Preschool Centre in Section 7, Shah Alam.

“Low-income groups who are unable to afford the fees at private facilities for special children will be prioritised to attend this preschool.”

Anis Preschool Centre is a collaboration between Yayasan Warisan Anak Selangor (Yawas) and Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) to assist special children aged between five and six with their personal and educational development.

The special education facility is catered towards children with learning disabilities such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), global developmental delay and Down Syndrome.

The preschool presently has 35 pupils in its pioneer batch, 12 teachers and one therapist.

It reportedly received some 100 applications ahead of the start of its operations last November.

Anis Department and its programmes come under the purview of Yawas.

“Anis Preschool Centre and a similar Anis Support Centre for younger children located at Ideal Convention Centre Shah Alam (IDCC) are the first of its kind in Shah Alam and Selangor,” said Amirudin.

“We understand that there is a demand for such centres for special children.

“There is a possibility of collaborations in other areas to offer opportunities for more parents, particularly those from low-income groups, to send their children with learning disabilities for early intervention programmes (EIP) or to undergo basic education similar to kindergarten level.”

Selangor public health, unity, women empowerment and family committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said the Anis Support Centre at IDCC is tailored for children aged between two and four.

“This is not an EIP centre where parents can drop their children off for full-day programmes.

“Instead, each child will be screened and assessed on what kind of challenges they are facing and the type of training needed,” she said.

“The teachers will work with the parents to address the specific challenges, such as toilet training or how to self-feed.

“We provide a weekly one-to-one coaching session, with each session lasting about two hours.

“The participation of parents is required as the child needs to continue practising at home what they learnt at the centre.”

According to MBSA, construction of Anis Preschool Centre cost RM555,000.

The one-storey building occupies 42,700sq ft of land and has four classrooms, two rooms for teachers and administrators, specially designed toilets, kitchen and surau.

Shah Alam mayor Dr Nor Fuad Abdul Hamid said in his speech, “The building that serves as the preschool was earlier built by the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).

“It was handed over to MBSA when Anis Department approached us with the idea of having a dedicated school for special children.

“We hope that this collaboration will serve as a benchmark for local councils in Malaysia in the provision of educational facilities for special children.”

While the preschool’s monthly maintenance costs including utility bills and grass cutting services would be borne by Anis Department, Nor Fuad said MBSA would bear the cost of major renovations such as repairing damaged roofs.

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