BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Youth Development Centre under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is offering a short term vocational programme for individuals with different abilities — a first for a government agency — as the country moves to promote inclusiveness and support equal opportunities.

The programme is conducted by the Special Education Unit in collaboration with Pusat Bahagia, Community Development Department and Brunei’s Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Ability.

First intake for the programme has already begun, comprising 10 students who were nominated by their respective organisations. These include six students from Pusat Bahagia, two from Special Education Unit, one from Down Syndrome Association (ABLE) and one students from National Association of the Deaf (OKP).

The first intake will run from February 4 until March 5.

Two courses are currently available under the programme, Fashion Design & Technology and Cake and Pastry course for the first intake course, while cooking & catering and beauty therapy courses will also be  offered for the second intake.

The programme will be conducted three times a year and according to the centre’s acting assistant director, Haswandi Hj Osman, the second intake will start in May.

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“For the next intake, individuals can come directly to us or through their respective NGOs to register. There is no fee involved and it is free,” he said.

“The programme is open to youths [aged between 18 and 40] but we do consider on case-to-case basis for individuals with different abilities. If the individual is aged below 18, like 16-17 years old but are interested to join the programme and are able-bodied, we can consider them,” he said.

Students will also be trained under modules that has industry-wide application as well as skills that they can use if they wish to venture into entrepreneurship.

Emphasis is put on workplace safety, workshop or kitchen management as well as production costing among others. Students with hearing impairment will be assisted by translators from Pusat Bahagia.

Acting director Youth and Sports Development section Zainab Morshidi, in her speech at the programme’s lauching ceremony called for parents and guardians of individuals with different abilities to be more open to registrating their children to the programme and to be more proactive in grabbing any opportunities.

She also welcomed Brunei’s Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Ability to suggest any courses that they deemed appropriate for the programme as the Youth Development Centre can tailor-made the courses according to current needs and demands.

This year, the Youth Development Centre also began offering their six-month programmes to individuals with different abilities. Five individuals with different abilities are currently enrolled under the centre where, upon successful completion of the programme, they will be awarded City & Guilds certification.