Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said special needs students should receive equal education opportunities like other students. NSTP/IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN

PUCHONG: Schools are encouraged to take their own initiative to help students with special needs.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said the move is in line with the ministry’s Zero Reject Policy to ensure that no special needs students are turned away from schools.

“We want special needs students to receive equal education opportunities like other students while attending special education programmes in public schools or government-aided schools.

“For example, schools at their own discretion can move the class with special needs students to the ground floor,” she told reporters after visiting Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) students at Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Putra Perdana in Taman Putra Perdana here.

She said facilities such as special stairs, ramps, toilets also will be provided at government schools in stages.

Meanwhile, Teo said beginning this year, it is compulsory for teachers in charge of PPKI to prepare an individual education plan for every special needs students in order to track their progress.

“By having an individual education plan for every special needs student, the teachers and the ministry can track the students’ progress and assess their achievements.

“The idea of an individual education plan is not something new, but we make it compulsory this starting this year.

“Before this, it was more on encouraging the teachers to prepare an individual tailor-made education plan for every special needs students.

“Now, we want the students to come to school not only for the sake of coming to school, but we want assist in their development.”

The individual plan is based on a student’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses, which allows the teachers to adopt the best teaching and learning process for a particular student, she said.

Teo said currently, each PPKI class will have a maximum of 10 students, which will allow the teachers to prepare an individual education plan.

“It is doable as the ratio is lower than normal classes, which have between 35 and 40 students.”

She said as at December 2018, there are 2,343 mainstream national schools that offer PPKI.

Teo said the ministry also will continue to provide training for the teachers.

“We are working with Permata Kurnia to provide training for the teachers.

“We believe that special needs students in the normal mainstream class will increase. Therefore, we want to equip our teachers with knowledge to handle special needs students.”