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10 July 2018

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As a child I had some difficulty reading and was placed under special supervision.

It worked. I got hooked into books, then got in trouble for reading under my desk during class time.

But I'm still useless at maths.

Probably why I pretty write well but don't make much money from it.

Primary school teachers are trained to identify students suffering from dyslexia and dyscalculia.

The process of guiding a student with special needs needs meticulous planning and cooperation between the class teacher,the student with his/her parent/s or guardian/s and a specialised Special Education officer.

The student to teacher ratio in all public schools is one reason a teacher might not be able to commit him/herself to a student with special needs' Individualised Plan.

Another reason is the class teacher's content knowledge (or lack thereof) of what Special Education is. If it is the first and not the second reason mentioned above,it could be the availability of and accessibility to an established Special Education Center.

After a child is identified as suffering from either or both learning difficulties mentioned above,the class teacher profiles this student and together with the parents and a Special Educations officer they create an Individualised Plan for the child.

Six years ago when I was teaching at an urban school, I identified a student with dyslexia very late in her grade (Grade 8), meaning that she slipped through the grades without being picked out. I could only imagine how she got on-the pressure of her parents forcing her to school against her abilities.

I contacted the only special education center in Lae but they could not help me much as they deal with "physical" disabilities only. I called the parents in but they were uncooperative, accusing me of "thinking their child is 'longlong".

The girl left school without proper help. Now she's out there in the world going through her life without proper basic literacy and numeracy skills.

There has been debate about whether or not eyesight may be in part a cause of dyslexia. Some more recent scientific research suggests that while most people have a ‘dominant eye’ (like being right-handed or left-handed), those with dyslexia are more likely to have both eyes equivalent. Apparently this lack of a dominant eye can cause confusion in reading similar letters e.g. ‘b’ and ‘d’. I wonder if by covering the weaker eye a person with dyslexia could read more accurately?

Michael, I believe there is a sizeable number of young (including adults) PNGeans suffering from dyslexia within our school system. It needs more reliable research into this condition. I did a search and couldn't find any information concerning dyslexia in PNG.

Thanks for this article, Raymond.

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