MELAKA: A non-governmental organisation wants the Melaka Government to assist parents of children with special needs to cope up with the increase in fees charged by a privately-managed training centre.
The Salvation Army's Hopehaven Centre for Special Children at Bandar Hilir here has reportedly increased its monthly fees twice within less than a year.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said many parents, especially retirees, are finding it hard to pay the amount as the fee had increased from RM250 to RM325 on July 2017 to RM450 starting March 1 for the Sheltered Employment Programme and Adult Day Programme.
"This is the second hike after the first fee structure was revised in July 2017.
"It is a burden to the parents and the state government should render help to the Salvation Army in terms of funding the two programmes that are designed for young adults with special needs," he said after attending a dinner organised by Wu Yap Wui Kwun Clan Association.
The dinner was to honour State Health and Anti-Drugs committee chairman Low Chee Leong who is the first clansman to be appointed as an executive councillor.
Mak had received a giant plaque from the 120-year-old association after he was appointed as a local councillor for Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council (MPHTJ) in July.
The Salvation Army, in a letter to parents on Jan 4, stated that the increase in fee structure was inevitable as the management wanted to ensure that its programmes were financially sustainable.
Currently, there are dozens of students with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, autism and learning difficulties in the programme, which offers workshop training classes for older children and young adults.
Mak said the state government should look into funding the programmes as it is meant for those with special needs.
"The Salvation Army is a non-governmental organisation and needs funds to continue its social service," he said.
Mak said he had alerted Low on the concerns raised by parents over the increase in fees.
"I was told that there would be another hike expected by end of this year," he said.
When met at the sidelines of the event, Low said the issue will be brought up to Chief Minister Adly Zahari.
He said the state government is focusing on three main elements, namely, economic, education and health as well as the welfare of the people.
"Hence, I assure you that the predicament faced by the parents will be addressed soonest possible," he added.
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