Big things come from small beginnings and the same is true for GOLD.
In 1998, a group of teachers from SMK Bandar Sunway and parents of the school students with LD volunteered to pool their time and resources to help strengthen the school’s Special Education Programme (SEP) for special needs students. SEP was in line with the Education Ministry’s Special Education Department’s initiative of providing a different curriculum and syllabus for children in need of special education so as to maximise their potential and achieve both economic and societal independence.
The loose network of dedicated teachers and parents had limited funding to carry out their activities to strengthen the students’ programme. But their unwavering vision to help and support the students with LD pushed them ahead. They were especially concerned with the future of the LD students when they left school. What would happen to them? Would they be marginalised by society? How could they be productive as young adults and eventually become independent members of society? Generating opportunities for the learning disabled school leavers were crucial in further efforts to enhance their living and social skills, thus helping them to have gainful employment. Hence the idea for “generating opportunities for the learning disables” or in short GOLD, came about. This happened in the year 2000. GOLD began as a network of volunteers working together for a good cause.
The driving force behind GOLD set a clear-cut goal right from the start:
“To promote economic empowerment for the learning disables.”
The first step in realising this goal was equipping the LD students with skills that they could use later on in life to support themselves financially and socially. A specialised learning syllabus was created for them with specific emphasis on skills related to independent living and integration into society upon leaving school. The syllabus was tailored to enhance creative development and artistic expression instead of traditional academic achievement.