The Melaka government is proposing to introduce a special course for Taman Bimbingan Kanak-Kanak or kindergarten (Tabika) and Taman Asuhan Kanak-Kanak or nursery (Taska) teachers of the Community Development Department (KEMAS) from next year to identify special needs children who require special attention.

State Rural Development, Agriculture and Food Security Committee chairman Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh said this effort was seen as important as an early detection measure as there are still parents who only realise their children have problems such as autism (now called autism spectrum disorder or ASD) when they enter primary school.

"It must be made clear that early detection is not for the purpose of segregating them, but we want to be able to provide them 'special treatment' and ensure they receive the best education so that their potential and talents can be fine-tuned and also so that they will be able to manage themselves in their daily life.

"Sometimes parents can overlook this (these signs) at home, but in nurseries and kindergartens, it is these teachers who can give exposure to and educate these children," he told reporters after officiating the state-level Hari Potensi Tabika dan Taska KEMAS 2023 in Ayer Keroh here today.

KEMAS director-general Datuk Ahmad Kamal Idris Mohd Nawawi and KEMAS Early Childhood Education director Anisah Saidin also attended the event.

In his speech, Dr Muhamad Akmal advised parents not to be in a 'self-denial' when they find their children are different from other children, but to be brave in finding a solution to ensure their children receive the proper education and treatment.

He also shared his experience that together with his wife, they raised their eldest autistic child who is now nine years old, adding that he is grateful for the exposure and early childhood education as his son is now independent and studies in a mainstream class with other children.

"With early education, we can find out these children's talents and potential. Perhaps not in studies but they have other talents that can be honed. So we should never feel that our children are less than others because all these children have gifts and advantages which need to be unearthed," he said.

Meanwhile, Anisah said KEMAS is always improving quality and standards, especially in the field of early childhood education, and among the new programmes introduced this year is the Tabika Pra Tahfiz KEMAS programme in collaboration with Yayasan Pahang.

She said the programme is an added value for the Islamic Education Appreciation Module and the programme's main goal is to give special emphasis to two aspects -- the learning of worship and Quranic studies -- and in Melaka there are three kindergartens involved in the Pra Tahfiz pilot project.

"Additionally, KEMAS has also received recognition and won the Reader's Digest's Trusted Brands Award for the Consumer's Choice Preschool Learning Centre category in Malaysia. It has won this award four times in 2017, 2020, 2022 and 2023.

"This award proves that Tabika KEMAS is on a par with other preschool learning centres, and even has a recognised teaching staff and learning system," he added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency