WE refer to the report "All girls camp for the gifted" (NST, June 26), where 52 students -- 20 from Saudi Arabia, two from Indonesia and 30 from Malaysia -- are taking part in a three-week summer camp organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's PERMATApintar programme.
The programme is one of five Permata Negara programmes, the brainchild of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The programme caters to the needs of gifted and talented children. All children can have access to the programme.
The PERMATApintar is an important programme for three reasons.
FIRST, it provides much-needed space, environment and guidance for gifted and talented children to develop to their full potential.
Thus, gifted children will not be neglected owing to the lack of qualified teachers to deal with their extra intellectual needs.
Partnership has been formed with institutions such as Johns Hopkins University to train teachers in alternative pedagogies to meet the needs of these children;
SECOND, it allows Malaysia to cultivate its own talents with a stronger potential for these children to serve the country in the long run. In other words, we will not suffer from a brain drain; and,
THIRD, the programme serves as a model for harnessing human capital for developing countries.
At present, countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are looking to Malaysia in their efforts to develop their own future leaders among gifted children.
The programme also provides special attention to young gifted girls who can be vulnerable to societal pressures or cultural discrimination that may hinder them from pursuing their education to a higher level.
Every child has a right to education, and right education, among other things, must fit the child's ability and promote his or her potential to the fullest.
Hence, gifted children need education that is envisioned by UKM PERMATApintar school, just like disabled children who need special education.
UKM is proud to be part of this endeavour to give service, knowledge and skills in guiding the gifted children.
To meet this objective, UKM's approach is to offer education from cradle to career so that no gifted child is left behind. This is a major contribution to this country.
UKM is committed to contributing to the initiatives of providing expertise to gifted and special needs education.
In providing education for the gifted, the programme at PERMATApintar looks beyond Malaysia, as can be seen in the current summer camp.
Mawhiba-UKM All Girls Summer Camp is one of the many programmes organised by PERMATApintar UKM in making good its commitment to this greater goal of egalitarian education.
In the words of Dr Amal Abdullah Al-Hazza, the deputy secretary-general for female section of Mawhiba, the training given to the gifted is to assist them "to be better able to contribute to their society and religion".
We must look at providing education at both ends of the capability spectrum, not as a privilege but as a right for the children and their families, but most importantly, as a right for the nation.
It is hoped that the PERMATApintar programme will receive due recognition from all segments of society in and outside Malaysia.
Dr Rashila Ramli and Dr Sharifah Mastura Syed Abdullah, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor