Malaysians Welcome 'School In Hospital' Concept
By Hazlinda Hamzah
SERDANG (Bernama) -- Recently, this writer was in a lift with a young mother at a public hospital here.
The woman pressed the button numbered five in the lift, indicating that she wanted to go to Level 5, the location of the hospital's paediatric ward.
"Visiting anybody?" came an enquiry from this writer.
"I want to visit my six-year-old child in the ward. The child was admitted after suffering from convulsions.
"The nurse called me this morning, informing me that my child can consume food and go for brisk walks in the ward," the young mother said.
"The nurse also said my child is happy, able to attend a classroom located on the same floor. Thank goodness, there is a school in the hospital," she added.
The Education Ministry, Health Ministry and a non-governmental organisation (NGO) have come up with a concept where a school is brought to the paediatric ward in the hospital to enable child patients to attend classes like their healthy peers.
This means that child patients' rights to education are not ignored.
This School In Hospital (SIH) is held free of charge for child patients at participating hospitals. Several government hospitals have allocated special places for SIH classrooms to provide education for patients at primary and secondary school levels.
Physicians attending to child patients need to certify that the children are able to attend the SIH classes that are conducted by experienced teachers from the Education Ministry.
The teachers are under the supervision of a senior teacher from the ministry.
Teachers, under the Education Ministry, can apply to become SIH teachers under the Special Education Division of the ministry.
Among subjects covered by the SIH are Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics and Science.
The classes are held in the mornings and afternoons from 10.00am-12.00noon and from 2.00pm-4.00pm.
"On Fridays, the afternoon session begins only at 3.00pm, after the Friday prayers, and is only held for one hour," explained a SIH Assistant Supervisor at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), Mohd Sufian, when contacted by Bernama.
HKL'S Paediatrics Institute has nine teachers at its SIH.
Mohd Sufian said the SIH holds academic classes from Mondays to Thursdays and focuses on co-curricular activities on Fridays.
"There are many patients of primary school age here as compared to those in the secondary school level. The number of patients attending the class also differs from day to day as it depends on their health," he said.
The SIH pilot programme was launched in July 2011 at three government hospitals in the Klang Valley - at HKL as well as Ampang and Serdang hospitals.
The SIH concept was mooted by Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman, wife of the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The concept was already in place in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, in line with UNESCO's call for the need to educate everyone.
To this date, eight hospitals in the country are equipped with SIH facilities.
Other hospitals that have SIH facilities are Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johor Baharu, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital in Kuantan, Pahang, Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM) in Kelantan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, PPUKM Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur and Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar.
The 'Hati Nurani' project focuses on maintaining classroom environment that is conducive apart from providing education deemed suitable for sick child patients.
This writer was told that SIH teachers utilise more flexible teaching techniques based on the 'entertaining learning' concept as many among the child patients have been in hospitals for months and years due to chronic diseases.
According to the parents' responses, they welcome the SIH concept as this enables their children to receive education while they are in hospitals.
Textbooks are provided and child patients are allowed to have their own exercise books to do their 'homework', based on their capability.
Storybooks are given to children who attend SIH classes. Patients between the ages of four and 18 are eligible for the SIH programme.
Teachers, who apply to be a part of the SIH programme, will have to attend a special course before being deployed to their respective SIH venues. Every year, they will be required to attend a refresher course.
Before 2011, several hospitals had classroom facilities, but the classes were held by NGOs and not properly structured as compared to those implemented by the Education Ministry today.
"The SIH classes now are well structured and formal, based on the Education Ministry's Curriculum, under the Education Act 1996.
"The places are provided by the Health Ministry at respective hospitals while the equipment is provided by Nurul Yaqeen Foundation, which is the NGO partner of this concept," explained a teacher, who is part of the SIH programme.
The government plans to implement the SIH programme in three more hospitals nationwide this year, including in Sabah and Sarawak.