Encouraging Learning Through A Play-Centred Approach
The topic of child abuse is a difficult and sensitive subject to approach, but it is one that needs to be addressed. On 21st of September 2019, a team of 14 Dika College students undergoing the Diploma in Early Childhood Education, four volunteers and their supervisor and Senior Lecturer, Mr. Mohan Dallumal visited the Suriana Welfare Society for Children in Petaling Jaya Selangor. Together, they broached the often understated issue of child rights through fun activities that encouraged learning through a play-centred approach.
“It is important that children are made aware the ways that they can protect themselves from abuse,” said student Sangeetha Ilangkainathun, 32. “It was also an invaluable opportunity for us to spend the day with the children at the centre,” added Sangeetha who explained that the children ranged from age 6 to 12 years old.
Dika College students raise awareness on child abuse and its prevention through
an outreach initiative at the Suriana Welfare Society for Children in Petaling Jaya.
“They are an NGO which has been instrumental in their work that deals with the protection of the rights of children who have been subject to abuse, abandonment and neglect,” said Sangeetha who explained that alongside working on child protection programmes, the society is also involved in awareness and aid related initiatives.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines child abuse as the maltreatment in all forms of physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect, which could result in the potential harm to a child’s health, survival, development or dignity,” explained Mesnie Balunsing, 23, who led the group in the initiative. “Therefore, making a child aware of his or her rights is an important role that educators play,” emphasised Balancing. “During the session, we taught the children what a good touch is and what a bad touch is,” said Balunsing who explained that these were done through fun and interactive games, quizzes and audio visual presentations.
“During the talk with the children, we discussed with them how they should take care of themselves,” said student Kyra Keziah Netto, 21. “We made it interactive by asking them to respond to certain questions. For example, what rules have their parents and teachers laid down for them in order to keep them safe? We then encouraged them to share how they would respond to certain situations,” added Netto.
The event started off with a Zumba dance session which everyone could participate in. Once the ice was broken, the team proceeded to involve the various different groups of audience with activities that would address their needs. “In addition to the session with the children, we also ran a parenting talk for parents,” said Netto. “To make things more exciting and competitive, we put up a scoreboard to keep track of the scores from the activities.”
Play-centred techniques encourage participation, responsiveness and interaction
“This community outreach programme is part of our academic programme. The planning and running of this activity is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills,” said Netto. “We had to think on our feet, especially in instances when we had to adjust our plans due to unexpected events. This has trained us to creatively solve problems, alongside improving our teamwork and communication skills.”
“It made me realise my role as an educator. I have the skills and knowledge to make a difference in the life of children and to bring joy to their future,” empathised Sangeetha who surmised that the session was an eye-opening experience for her.
The Chairman of the Suriana Welfare Society, James Nayagam, thanked the Dika team for their visit, gifts and donations. “You have brought much joy to the children. It is our hope that you will continue your good work to help the community,” he said.
Dika College students collaborate with the Suriana Welfare Society for Children in
Petaling Jaya in an initiative to raise awareness on the issue of child abuse.
“The Community Service module requires students to discern the change they want to see in the community, and to apply what they have learned in class to achieve this change. This learning experience also guides our students to collaborate with the industry to further initiatives that benefit society,” said Pua Chee Ling, Chief Executive of Dika College.
“At Dika we ingrain in our students the wisdom to navigate their academic aptitudes and character attitudes in a direction that is guided by high moral and ethical values to be a positive influence to themselves, their families, at work and in their communities,” said Pua. “The staffs at Dika understand the importance of this and they play an important role in guiding our students to equip themselves with the confidence to be agents of change.”