Living with Dyslexia in Malaysia

Dyslexia programme for secondary school

The Death Knell for the Dyslexia Programmefter Standard 6?

There was relief and great hope for the parents when the Pilot Dyslexia Programme was launched in June 2004 at S.K. TTDI (2). My son is one of the pioneer dyslexics in this programme.

The initial plan was for 16 dyslexic and 3 Special Ed teachers for this pilot school. Unfortunately due to the poor response from some of the schools earmarked for this Dyslexia Programme many parents had no choice but to send their dyslexic children to this school. This Pilot school is now overcrowded with 28 dyslexics and only 2 Specially trained teachers.

As with every project, once the ‘hoohah’ of the launch is over, the project will slowly die a natural death. There are so many dyslexics in different classes and different Standards that the existing 2 teachers cannot cope. So the dyslexics are left on their own. The ‘normal’ or regular class teachers usually leave the dyslexics alone and do not interfere or show much concern with this ‘group’ of students.

These special kids are ‘okay’ because they have their own ‘dyslexic gang’. There is camaraderie amongst them. They usually mix around with their own ‘kind’ and do not mix often with the non-dyslexics. Peer support is very important for these children as they know that they are not ALONE. There are many of them in this school.

The first batch of dyslexics (only 4 students) in this pilot project will be sitting for their UPSR exams in 2007. What has been done to assist this 4 children for their UPSR next year? The SIBKOM that was shown at PWTC this March looks very promising. Can it be ready for this 1st batch of dyslexics? SK TTDI (2) has 20 new computers in their computer lab. Therefore hardware is not a problem. Manpower should also be not a problem as there are only 4 students. As this school is the pilot school for the Dyslexia Programme, why not use this school to be the pilot for the SIBKOM too?.

Was informed that the Ministry feels that these kids have been given enough support in the Primary school and should be able to cope in the ‘normal’ Secondary School. Hence NO Dyslexia Programme for the Secondary school. Hence the DEATHTOLL for these pioneer dyslexics.

It is a well known fact amongst Learning Disability experts and research has shown that special Children with learning disabilities need support from Day 1 till they graduate from school. PERIOD. SO why start a programme at all when there will be no Follow through till the end up to the Secondary level?

As usual, there will always be new projects launched every now and then – the lastest being the KIA early readers programme – to detect children who unable to read in Std 1. The statistics in the newspapers shows that as many as 30% of the students in the primary schools are still not able to read after having gone through 6 years of primary education? I would not be surprised if these 30% consists of dyslexics too. Were the non-readers analysed to detect why they could not read?

All the parents in this Programme nationwide (30 schools nationwide has been earmarked for this Programme in 2004 and 100 schools in 2007) are at a loss now as to what to do with their special children after their UPSR exams? The 100 schools earmarked for the Dyslexia Programme in 2007 should consist of Secondary schools too!

Put the dyslexics back in the ‘normal’ secondary school is putting them back to square One. They will be doomed for Failure without peer support and Special trained teachers in Dyslexia to give them the moral support.

Please note that worldwide Statistics put the percentage of Dyslexics at 10%. This means out of every 10 kids there is one dyslexic. A very high ratio, much more than Downs Syndrome (1 in 600), Cerebral Palsy (2 per 1,000) and Epilepsy (5 per 1,000).

Dyslexics can contribute to society if given the opportunity. Look at the famous dyslexics -Albert Einstein, Leonardo daVinci, Lee Kwan Yew, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, etc

On the other hand, if support is not given, these dyslexics can be menace to society –they are capable of being the greatest Bank Robber as they are intelligent but have learning difficulties. So if not given the educational support in their teenage years, they will revert to crime. Look at statistics carried out in the States and UK. One out of every 2 prisoner is a Dyslexic. Do we need this in Malaysia?

I sincerely hope the Ministry of Education would look into continuing this Dyslexia Programme into the Secondary schools. Not only for the sake of these kids but for the sake of our NATION. The crime rate is increasing and if an analysis was done on these criminals, I would not be surprised that a large number of these criminals have been rejected by society when they were in school because they could not read and cope up with the school syllabus and hence reverted to crime.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE! Start the Dyslexia Programme fot the Secondary Schools NOW!

From a very worried mother,

Cho Suet Sen


February 4, 2009 - Posted by | Dyslexia


  1. I am a Dyslexia Support Specialist in Scotland. Here we expect learners with dyslexia to remain within mainstream; the philosophy being that ALL teachers need to be aware of the difficulties and the interventions that support these young people. There are so many ways to enable learners to access curricula without the barrier of print now, as well as a greater knowledge of how to teach literacy effectively.
    Creating a ghetto of ‘special’ kids does them no favours. I shuddered when I read that they ‘do not mix with non-dyslexics’. Surely they are young people first not to be definedsolely by their learning differences? Surely you expect your children to venture into the big wide world where they cannot be cosseted and protected from ordinary life.
    It is our job as parents and teachers to prepare our young people to live in the real world and to make the substantial contribution that they can – if only they weren’t excluded and separated off from peers and the exciting world of learning open to them.

    Comment by Hilery Williams | February 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Suet,

    I totally agree with you and I do hope the Ministry will take this program seriously. We could have more dyslexic students than we had thought. I’m suspecting that my son is dyslexic too – and at a kindy’s age, he’s already hating school. I’m doing a lot of personal coaching with him, but I’m worried about his primary years that will begin next year. Should I go homeschooling instead, since the proper support is not available in our public school system? I don’t want him to be labelled as stupid or lazy by his teachers and friends. That’ll definitely affect his self-esteem.

    Comment by mima | February 9, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hello,
    I am from Kuala Lumpur. I have a daughter born in November 1997. She had struggled throughout her kindergarden years up to Std. 2. Compared to her brother who is only a year older than her, she had great difficulty reading and writing. She did not do well at school and her teachers complained but they did not suggest anything. It was very frustrating to see her – she was falling behind in the syllabus and more than often did not complete any of the school work. It was only after a trip to visit my sister in the UK when my sister advised me to have her tested for dyslexia. After my return, I did a lot of research and had her assessed. However, I made the mistake of taking her to a person who was only interested in making a lot of money, something in the region of RM9K for a 1 year tutorial which consisted of a 1-hour a week session and for which I had to sign an agreement. There was little or no progress at all and I was not even allowed to be present during any of the teaching sessions. I did not continue after the term ended. Eventually, I decided that she needed to catch up with her reading and the school syllabus and I thought it would be useful to re-grade her. So I approached the Education Department requesting that instead of being in Standard 3, for her to be placed in Standard 2 at the school she attended. However the Education Department informed me that that was not possible and that I could only do that if she was registered with the Special Education Needs Department. After having gone through all the tests at the Goverment Hospital, I had registered her and she was transferred to a normal Government school which also catered for Special Education needs. The school was newly built and had a very small number of students – one class of about 15 students for each standard – these were normal students. So here was my 9-year old daughter in the same class with a bunch of 8 year olds. However the teachers did not know anything about dyslexia. They were just curious as to why she was under the Special Education Plan as she looked so normal. So in actual fact, this year 2009, she would be 12 years old in November and should be sitting for her UPSR examination. But because of her re-grading in 2006, she will only sit for her UPSR next year. I am quite happy with the progress she has made with the help of another private tutor who specialises in dyslexic students. However, my main concern now is that, for her UPSR exam, will she be given the privileges and facilities that students of other dyslexic programs are getting? Can she go to any normal secondary school since she is now under the Special Education Program or is the secondary school restricted to only schools with special education programs and if so where are these schools located?
    Can someone please enlighten me.

    Comment by Sarah Cardoza | April 6, 2009 | Reply

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