THE GIFT OF LEARNING
Navigating education options for gifted and talented children can be a thrilling yet intimidating endeavour for parents, so we
look at the resources and schools available here
here’s a lot of debate about what it means to be ‘gifted’.The National Association for Gifted Children Malaysia offers a simple and useful description of how gifted learners typically behave; a young child who displays academic capability and language proficiency on par with that of a teenager or adult, for example, is a good sign that they are gifted.
Their distinctive neurological makeup sets these youngsters apart from their peers, which can be a formidable challenge in other respects. Many gifted students are often unfortunately riddled with emotional issues, labelled ‘problematic’ in mainstream schools or even unintelligent when they don’t perform well in standardised school examinations because the way they absorb, process and act on information might be different from other people.
PHOTOS How have national initiatives tackled issues like these in recent years? The PERMATApintar programme by the National University of Malaysia (University Kebangsaan Malaysia or UKM) may have an answer.The PERMATApintar Centre at UKM (also called the Malaysian National Gifted And Talented Centre) uses a four-step approach to identifying and educating gifted children from across the country. In the Talent Search and Management phase, students complete an online test, after which they are shortlisted to take a second test at designated centres.
The two tests determine if they are selected to attend the residential School Holiday Camp and eventually, the PERMATApintar Educational Programme and ASASIpintar year-long preuniversity programme thereafter. In the school holiday camp stage, the students participate in enrichment programmes co-developed by UKM and the Johns Hopkins Centre For Talented Youth, taught by internationally-certified university professors and lecturers.
Other plans have been made to accommodate gifted learners in a mainstream school setting – the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 released by the Malaysian Ministry of Education aims to develop and implement a comprehensive gifted education programme for all Malaysian schools by the year 2025.