Kuala Lumpur – This week is celebrated as the “World Dyslexia Awareness Week” and today (Thursday 4th October 2018) is observed as the Official World Dyslexia day.
In conjunction with world Dyslexia day, the national organisation for Dyslexia Malaysia (NOD) has called on the government authorities and the stakeholders to take necessary additional measures to address issues pertaining to Dyslexia.
The following is the full text of the press statement issued by Dr Mullai A.Ramaiah (pic) in conjunction with the world Dyslexia awareness week:-
“The National Organization for Dyslexia Malaysia (NOD) (Organisasi Kebangsaan Dyslexia Malaysia) celebrates the World Dyslexia Awareness Week this week with 4th Oct being the official World Dyslexia Day. And our theme is, Need for Transformation.
NOD has been creating awareness of Dyslexia among Malaysians through the media since the organization’s inception three years ago. It has also been training teachers to teach language through the phonetic approach, assessing and teaching children who are Dyslexic and counselling parents.
NOD has conducted several workshops for teachers of primary schools in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca. It was invited by the Chennai Dyslexia Association to conduct a workshop for teachers in Channai. From then, other schools in Tamil Nadu have adopted our approach to teach Dyslexic students.
The Curriculum Development division of the Ministry of Education in Singapore invited NOD to offer a workshop to its officers, and to share with them views on how the approach could be used in their school set-up.
NOD also participated in the International Conference for the Indian Diaspora held in Santa Clara (USA) where our teaching tool was showcased for teaching Tamil to children who had difficulty learning Tamil as a second language.
Dyslexia is a state in which one finds it extremely challenging to bring a sound to the written letter. One has difficulty in reading, writing and spelling. Therefore, sounds of the language or phonics is taught and not the letter names as in the traditional method. Also, where phonics does not work all the way, as in teaching English, the whole word approach is used. Dyslexia is often diagnosed as a disorder.
NOD believes that children with Dyslexia learn differently and, therefore, need a different approach from the traditional approach used in our schools to teach language.
We have also seen from experience that children do respond to multisensory, systematic and structured phonetic approach no matter how serious the condition. Children with dyslexia have, by definition, an average or high IQ. They are not slow learners as they are miss-labelled in schools. Slow learners have less than average IQ. Dyslexic students understand and grasp concepts far more quickly than slow learners if taught in an appropriate way and show remarkable progress.
Parents need to understand that when their children do not pick up the language as the average student does, it may not be their laziness, attitude or even poor teaching in the classroom. Dyslexia may indeed be the central problem.
Dyslexia can be tormenting for children. They need support both in the school and at home. Teachers and parents need to understand the child’s condition and cooperate fully to help the child overcome the condition. The emotional climate for the child is of critical importance.
Malaysia is in dire need of transforming the teaching conditions, especially in primary schools. Some selected schools have classrooms for children with special needs. But even there, often a mixed bag of children with various challenges are grouped together in one classroom. Autistic, dyslexic, slow-learning and sometimes children with down syndrome, and children with attention deficit and hyperactive children are found in the same classroom. Each of these children needs different kind of attention and instructional approach.
NOD believes in inclusive education where a child who has dyslexia is part of mainstream education. But that they need special time – about 50 minutes a day — during school hours, to be educated according to their needs. Teachers trained in handling Dyslexia should be in place. In Western countries where this is done, results have been very encouraging.
The child is singled out just for 50 minutes and goes back to his/her grade classroom for all other activities. Parents too are comfortable with this arrangement because there is no social stigma attached to it. The child preserves his/her self-esteem. He/she tries to use what is learnt in the special classroom in the regular classroom, which ensures continuity and stability in the learning process.
Dyslexia cannot be ignored because reading and writing are basic needs for anyone. And as one out of six children is affected by some reading problem across the world and it is generally said that 20% of any classroom, that is not streamed according to ability, has children with some reading problem, it is critical that the Ministry of Education takes action as early as possible.
It is said time and again that children drop out of school because of poverty, broken families and marginalization by the government putting the problem outside of the child. It is time that Malaysia realizes that the child could become a problem to himself because of the social pressures within school, the family and outside. Having lost confidence in being able to perform the basic skills of reading and writing like most others in school do, he/she loses self-esteem and may wish to drop out of the tormenting environment.
It is time we took charge of our children and nip the problem in the bud by offering the right kind of education. It is the schools’ duty to ensure no Dyslexic child leaves school without knowing how to read and write. As much as our Government says it is unlawful to keep a child away from school, it is the right of the child to receive appropriate education. To delay is to deny!
Dr. Mullai A. Ramaiah
National Organization for Dyslexia Malaysia
For Further Information:
Dr. Mullai A. Ramaiah