Fri, 22 Sep 2023


Sabah’s first autism school: Implementation by year-end if approved by State Cabinet
Published on: Wednesday, August 23, 2023
By: Wu Vui Tek
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Sabah’s first autism school: Implementation by year-end if approved by State Cabinet
James (third, right) participating in a poco poco dance with members of the Senior Citizens Association.
Kota Kinabalu: The State Community Development and People’s Wellbeing Ministry is working on a plan to build the first autism school in Sabah.

Its Minister Datuk James Ratib said the plan, when completed, will be submitted to the State Cabinet for approval.

He said there are 14,000 autistic children in the State, yet there isn’t a single specialised school to cater for their education.

“Once the State Cabinet gives the greenlight, we aim to have the plan implemented by the end of year,” he said after witnessing the swearing-in of the new committee members of the Sabah Senior Citizens Association at Wisma Wanita, here.

James, along with his Ministry’s officials, had embarked on a study tour to an autism school in Singapore three months ago to learn about its operations.

“In Singapore, sending an autistic child to a special school costs as much as S$10,000 per month.

“This financial burden is beyond the means of many parents in Sabah. Therefore, it is crucial for the State to have such a school to cater to the needs of these children,” he said.

On the latest development of a recent child abuse incident at a kindergarten involving a teacher, he said the case is still under police investigation.

He said the Ministry would be calling for a meeting with all the management of nurseries and kindergartens in the State to address the matter.

“Furthermore, the Ministry will conduct surprise inspections on nurseries and kindergartens across the State to prevent child abuse in these centres.”

On the wellbeing of senior citizens, the Minister urged the elderly to prioritise health and a joyful life. 

He acknowledged that seniors possess valuable life experiences across various fields, making them role models for the younger generations, and encouraged them to share their experiences to guide young people positively.

The Minister noted that seniors often face financial difficulties due to medical expenses, and advised individuals to save money during their youth to secure their future.

“Having sufficient retirement funds reduces mental stress and allows a fulfilling twilight phase of life,” said James.

He also said the State Government is currently constructing a centre in Inanam for senior citizens.

“The centre, equipped with indoor and outdoor facilities, is open to individuals aged 55 and above who can reside at a monthly fee of RM5,000.” 

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