Boon for kids with Sarawak special needs centre

KUCHING, 29 Oct 2020:

The first One-Stop Early Intervention Centre (OSEIC) in Sarawak – which has started its operation a month ago – had brought new hopes to children with special needs in the state.

Situated at Metro City, Jalan Matang here, the centre, a state government initiative in collaboration with Petronas, will be officially launched tomorrow, on Oct 30.

The centre is one of Petronas several key CSR projects in Sarawak.

Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said initial funding of RM4 million for the project came from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and after that, the centre will be funded by the state government.

“OSEIC is a project to help those special needs children and its objective was to provide diagnosis, rehabilitation and intervention services under one roof for children with autism, down-syndrome and learning disabilities aged seven years old and below,” she said in an interview.

Although there is Agape Centre under Sibu Community Services Associations, which currently houses five different organisations running independently in services, management and financial support, Fatimah said OSEIC is indeed the first centre in the state providing the services under one roof and is managed by an NGO – which is PIBAKAT.

“When we visited Genius Kurnia in Kuala Lumpur, we met parents with autistic children from Sarawak who had to transfer to Kuala Lumpur, in order to be able to send their autistic children for intervention programme.

“One mother had to quit her job in Miri just to ensure that she and her husband can stay in Kuala Lumpur and send the autistic son to Genius Kurnia.”

With the establishment of such centre in Sarawak, she said parents with special children do not have to worry about travelling to Kuala Lumpur, spending extra money or quitting their jobs in order to send their children for intervention programme.

“The services are now available in Kuching with affordable fees and for a start, 40 children from 40 families have registered with OSEIC and we are expecting a lot more to register and benefit from the services provided at this centre.”

Touching on the Penan pre-school project, Fatimah said all the five preschools have started operating since last year with initial RM2.75 million funds from Petronas.

She said there are 10 trained teachers and 42 children in all the preschools.

Fatimah noted the ministry started the collaboration with Petronas in 2015, and started with Penan Community Preschools in Baram district at Long Leng, Long Kawa, Long Kerangan, Long Jenalong and Ba’ Selulong, with the objective of providing access, equity and quality preschool education for the Penan children in the interior areas.

“This is the investment that we have made for these children. The results cannot be seen immediately but we do hope to be able to see these children to be successful in education and life, thus able to contribute back to the community and to Sarawak.”

She noted more Penan parents are now aware of the importance of education for their children.

Meanwhile Fatimah said the percentage of present primary one pupil in Sarawak who has attended early childhood education stood at 97.74% or 40,025 out of 40,949 pupils enrolled in 2019 and 97.2% or 37,190 out of 38,262 pupils enrolled this year, reported Bernama.

Separately, Petronas, through its corporate social responsibility arm Yayasan Petronas, is contributing RM2.5 million worth of medical equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE) to hospitals across Sabah to support the efforts of medical front-liners in managing the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.

Yayasan Petronas will be providing medical equipment which include powered air purifying respirators, high flow nasal cannula, four parameter vital sign monitors and high-end physiologic monitors for the nursing care, emergency and trauma, intensive care and paediatric intensive care wards.

The contribution will be channelled in stages to public hospitals in Kota Kinabalu, Keningau, Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.

Yayasan Petronas chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Nizam Salleh said: “With Sabah recording alarming cases daily, it is becoming ever more important for us as a nation to stand together with our fellow Malaysians in the fight against the virus.

“In collaboration with the State Health Department, it is my hope that our modest contribution will help aid the Sabah state in overcoming the third wave of infections soonest.”

Petronas president and group chief executive officer Tengku Muhammad Taufik added: “Petronas remains resolute in ensuring that our contributions benefit the well-being of all Malaysians, especially in the time of crisis.

“We will continue to intensify our efforts together with government agencies in extending our support to hospitals and medical front-liners who have selflessly served those in need throughout this difficult period.”

Earlier this month, Yayasan Petronas contributed a total of 1,504 bottles of hand sanitisers, 2,500 pieces of surgical face masks and 2,390 medical gowns to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu. The foundation also contributed two units of ventilators to the hospital in August.

These contributions are in addition to Yayasan Petronas’ provision of critical medical equipment and supplies worth RM20 million to aid the country’s hospitals, healthcare front-liners, and high-risk groups in mitigating the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in March this year.

As at 30 June 2020, the initiatives and efforts undertaken by the Petronas Group to support the nation in mitigating the spread of Covid-19 stands at approximately RM40 million – which includes contribution from Petronas’ employees amounting to RM6.4 million.