SEAMEO BIOTROP and the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Special Education Needs (SEN) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 16 February 2016 in Melaka, Malaysia for life skills development of special education teachers and students.
Signatories to the MOU were SEAMEO SEN Director Dr Yasmin binti Hussain, and SEAMEO BIOTROP Dr Irdika Mansur.
As an initial activity within this MoU, SEAMEO BIOTROP will conduct a skill-based training course on urban agriculture for special education and vocational teachers in Indonesia on 9-12 May 2016 at its headquarter in Bogor. At least two special education teachers from Malaysia will also join the training.
Dr Yasmin binti Hussain said that the life skills training course on agricultural production and livelihood generation that will be undertaken under the MoU for the teachers is expected to be transferred to improve the knowledge and skills of the students with special needs to become productive and self-reliant citizens. She said that such course is also aimed to increase the quality of life of the special students. Besides becoming self-reliant, the students can promote themselves as agricultural entrepreneurs and also be able to open up employment opportunities for others. This could make them valuable assets in their community.
She added that this collaboration will provide the opportunity for special education teachers to guide their students in achieving the goal of special education needs classes which allows the involved groups to enjoy their world of schools as their peers. The combination of agriculture with special education can attract students despite their learning problems such as having hearing and vision impairment, autism, Down syndrome, as well as special talents.
Meanwhile, Dr Irdika Mansur said the agricultural aspect of this collaboration will include transferring production and packaging technologies as well as marketing strategies of farm products that are user friendly for people who have special needs. He added that BIOTROP will also use Geospatial Information System (GIS) to map out children with special education schools in Indonesia.
SEAMEO BIOTROP Deputy Director for Program Dr Jess Fernandez said that the teachers who will participate in the said training course are expected to develop action plans which could either be establishing the technologies in their respective schools to serve as learning resources for their students, food source for the school canteen, or setting up social entrepreneurship activity for the school. He added that the training is also expected to be offered to other special education teachers in other Southeast Asian countries.
The MoU signing was witnessed by SEAMEO SEN Deputy Director Dr Kway Eng Hock and Dr Jess Fernandez. The signing ceremony was held at Kompleks Anjung Hikmah, Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Perempuan Melayu, Malaysia.