KENINGAU, SABAH: In its commitment to advance equitable learning opportunities, Taylor’s College has unveiled an initiative to bolster special education at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Bingkor in Keningau, Sabah. In collaboration with the winner of the RISE Educator Award 2023, Velerie Wheeleveron Primus, Taylor’s supports the school’s ‘Integrated Sensory Therapy Room and Snoezelen Project’ for the benefit of special needs pupils.

Taylor’s College Campus Director, Josephine Tan said: “In our mission to become not only the best tertiary institution in the world but also the best for the world, we recognise that education is the cornerstone of lifelong success.

Taylor’s believes that investing in projects like these serve as the catalyst for meaningful change, not just for the students and the school, but for the nation's education ecosystem.

It lays the foundation for a more empowered, knowledgeable, and prosperous society. The 'Integrated Sensory Therapy Room and Snoezelen Project' embodies our commitment to redefining education and fostering an inclusive, transformative learning environment.”

The funding for this project comes at a time when there is an urgent need for a specialised learning facility to support special education needs in Sabah.

UNICEF’s released a report, “Children Out of School: The Sabah Context”(2017) which concluded Malaysia offers various education options for children with physical and learning disabilities but these facilities are primarily located in urban areas, thus presenting challenges for disabled children in rural areas to access schools.

The report further added that despite the existence of special education systems, not all children with disabilities receive necessary interventions or tailored learning due to factors such as inadequate infrastructure and limited access to assistive technology.

$!In addition to the RM10,000 sponsorship to SK Bingkor, Taylor’s College sponsored three sets of smart TVs to be used as educational tools for the students. [L-R] Josephine Tan, Campus Director of Taylor’s College, Velerie Wheelervon Primus, Winner of RISE Educator Award 2023 and Madalina Juanis, Headmistress of SK Bingkor.

Specifically in Keningau, Sabah, Velerie noted that special education needs learning facilities were limited, especially when accommodating students with disabilities like autism and ADHD in the same class.

“More than 65% of SK Bingkor’s special needs students fall into this unique demographic. For them, the learning journey is distinct, demanding the integration of play-based learning elements. This project serves as a dedicated support system, ensuring they receive guidance that goes beyond traditional classrooms, significantly enhancing their sensory abilities.

Whilst recognising the limitations of conventional teaching methods for these students, our initiative remains steadfast in unlocking their full potential.

Through personalised guidance, the project aspires to create an educational experience that exceeds standard practices, empowering these children not only to succeed but to thrive in every aspect of their learning journey,” said Velerie.

He explained that the initiative created a designated area for multisensory experiences tailored to students with special education needs, integrating both the Sensory Room and the Snoezelen project.

These endeavours tackle challenges in motor development, cognitive language, social interaction, learning focus, and behaviour management, crucial for addressing the distinctive needs of special education students. This was to boost focus, confidence, relaxation, behaviour, and cognitive development. The ultimate aim is to establish a safe and nurturing environment conducive to their overall well-being.

SK Bingkor Headmistress, Madalina Juanis explained that this project aligns with Velerie’s mission to uplift the rights of students with special education needs in Sabah: “This initiative reflects our collective commitment to providing an enriching and supportive learning journey for every student at SK Bingkor, and we express our appreciation to Taylor’s College for supporting the initiative that Velerie has brought to life for special needs students, and for sponsoring the smart TVs for students’ use during the lessons at the therapy rooms,” she said.

Tan further added that the project aligns with Taylor’s mission to champion Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) which commits to ensuring quality and equitable access to education for all: “The project not only signifies a commitment to inclusivity but also embodies unwavering dedication to crafting an educational environment where every student, regardless of their unique needs, is poised to thrive, learn, and be empowered to achieve their utmost potential.”

In addition to being the champion of the RISE Educator Award, Velerie holds the title of State Cultural Icon in Sabah and has earned numerous accolades at the state, national, and international levels.

These include the Excellence Teacher 2022, State Cultural Icon Teacher of Sabah for 2021 and 2022, Innovation Teacher 2022, National Performing Arts Teacher Candidate 2023, Sabah Chief Minister's Award 2018, Sabah State Ministry of Technology and Innovation Award 2019, Golden Award Folklore Dance Russian Federation 2021, and more than 10 gold awards in innovation competitions.

Taylor’s College looks forward to launching its fourth edition of RISE Educator Award this year, recognising exceptional educators who contribute to the academic development and social well-being of their students.

For more information on RISE Educator Award, please visit https://college.taylors.edu.my/en/the-risers/rise-educator-award-2023.html.

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