Archive for the ‘Inclusive Education’ Category

Inclusive campuses: Enabling the disabled to pursue studies to the highest level

Friday, April 26th, 2019
Volunteers from UM Voluntary Secretariat at the hero for the blind programme at MAB.

IN Malaysia, the number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are studying at higher learning institutions has been increasing with every academic year.

The government too is always supportive of disabled people wishing to pursue tertiary education. The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2035 and Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025 are clear on the needs of students with disabilities.

Both documents state the country’s education system aspires to be holistic, accessible and inclusive.

As the one of the oldest universities in the country, Universiti Malaya (UM) recognises the rights and needs of the disabled to pursue studies to the highest level.

The university, from the top management to support staff, is committed to provide the disabled with equal opportunities in education as is available for non-disabled persons.

UM has attempted to provide an environment that is capable of supporting disabled students in order for them to move freely and independently both socially and emotionally, and in the physical environment.

And in line with the nation’s development and UM’s intention to become a PWD-Inclusive University, and in tandem with the stipulations of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UM has formulated a special policy pertaining to disabled students.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Association for International Education Conference and Exhibition 2019 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, UM Faculty of Built Environment dean Professor Dr Yahaya Ahmad said an inclusive environment in a university, where equality is upheld, and diversity respected, is fundamental to support students with disabilities to build positive identities, develop a sense of belonging and realise their full potential.

To realise this, inclusive values have to be hardwired into its primary ecosystem of teaching and learning, governance structure, student support system and infrastructure for the benefit of the university’s community especially students with disabilities.

“UM’s Inclusive University Policy aims to provide equal opportunity to the disabled and to make the university fully accessible to them.

“The policy is expected to ensure the rights and needs of disabled students and strengthen the quality of education in the country, in addition to promoting the university’s reputation in the global arena,” he said during a dialogue session titled Towards Achieving An Inclusive Campus Environment For Students With Disability to showcase a holistic ecosystem of education for all.

Championing this issue is the Asean University Network Disability and Public Policy (AUN DPPnet), which aims to contribute to human resource development in Asean by building a cadre of disability policy leaders who can help facilitate the vision of an Asean that is inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based.

These leaders are trained and empowered to shape the policies that directly affect persons with disabilities throughout Asean and around the world.

Yahaya, who is also AUN DPPnet director, hoped that these efforts will enable disabled students to experience life in the best way possible throughout their sojourn on campus.

He added that the provisions made to meet the needs of the disabled which include facilities, equipment and services are no longer a choice or charity-based action.

“It is the right of the disabled which must be fulfilled and maintained, as has been enjoyed by non-disabled students. These efforts are not works of charity or corporate social responsibility merely carried out when an institution has surplus funds or spare workforce.”

Since 2014, UM has implemented the Inclusive University Policy which brought about the establishment of the Inclusive University Development Committee, Students With Disabilities Management Unit (UPSOKU) and Disability Liaison Officer.

“The Inclusive University Policy implementation includes standard operating procedures for teaching and learning, industrial training, examination, counselling services, scholarship and financial assistance,” said Yahaya, adding that there is still a long way to go but UM is heading towards the right direction towards achieving this mission.

In addition to running capacity-building programmes, AUN DPPnet offers postgraduate scholarship in public policy that covers tuition fees, monthly stipends, air flights and book allowances.

To date, it has given 41 scholarships for scholars to pursue master’s programmes at several universities.


Mature UM student Mohamad Sazali Shaari, who is pursuing the Master of Public Policy, said he felt a bit awkward in the beginning as he is hearing-impaired.

But his coursemates welcomed him and made him feel at home as they learnt together despite the age gap.

“I don’t feel alone because the students are sensitive to my needs. So there is no limitation or barrier for me to acquire knowledge.

“I chose to study at UM because it’s one of the oldest universities in the country and it champions ethical practices to ensure accessibility for students with disabilities,” said Mohamad Sazali, who is Malaysian Federation of the Deaf executive director.

“In an inclusive university, it is important for everyone to be aware of special needs.

“Once my lecturer asked why two women were standing behind him. I told him I needed them to sign what he taught in class.

“Within a short period of time at UM, I feel that I have learnt a lot. Students with disabilities are thankful for easy access to studies.

“We do not want sympathy but our rights as students,” added Mohamad Sazali, who values the chance to mingle with other students.

He believes easy access to communication and information is key to lifelong learning.

“I go to classes with my sign language interpreter.

“Signing is an art. An interpreter has to listen, summarise and convey the message accurately whether at a lecture or class discussion.

“Interpreters have to be familiar with the terminology of the subjects,” he added.

In advanced countries, a dedicated person is assigned to type during the presentation or lectures while students concentrate on the sign language.

“I hope that in the future the university will be able to provide these services.

“Disseminating information such as the lesson plan has helped. I interact with students on platforms such as WhatsApp and email.


Another aspect that should not be overlooked by a diverse tertiary institution is the assistive technology awareness which plays an important part in the life of students with disabilities.

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities or elderly population while including the process used in selecting, locating and using them.

Common examples of assistive technologies include mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes and crutches as well as text-to-speech tools.

Another alternative is Draft Builder, a writing tool that integrates outlining, note-taking and draft-writing functions to break down the writing process.

For some 40 years, UM Department of Rehabilitation Medicine Honorary Professor Datuk Dr Zaliha Omar has been advocating the development and use of assistive technology in her work at the university, in her clinic at the hospital as well as in the community.

“It is a privilege to work with the disabled and try to make their lives easier by introducing assistive technology.

“Don’t create things just for the use of people with disabilities. We should look at a device and create something that is functional,” said Dr Zaliha.

“In the digital era, everything is smart — at home, school and on campus — and it makes it easy for you and I. But it should be easy for people with disabilities too.”

Devices on campus must be universal in design to cater to all students including those with disabilities.

“A learning institution is responsible for providing all of the facilities needed by students.

“In terms of technology, don’t just think devices. Think of all the senses — sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch — including the three new senses which are spatial, emotional and spiritual instead. All the senses have to be put together. When we address issues of students with disabilities, we cannot afford to go wrong.

“We have to be inclusive in our thinking — think of the disabled person not only in the learning environment but also in the future when they join the workplace.”


Undergraduates Seri Irdina Syahirah Nordin and Tan Chin Ning are physically- and visually-impaired respectively.

Both faced various challenges, especially in terms of accessibility and lack of awareness during their early days on campus.

Seri Irdina Syahirah, who is in her second year of the computer science and information technology course, uses a wheelchair and rides a scooter on campus.

She finds it difficult to go to classes and have skipped them many times.

Tan, a first-year economics and administration student, was not allowed to sit exams via soft copy format. Her lecturer asked her to sit the exams with the rest of the students.

Administration officer Muhammad Firdaus Abu Hassan at the Students With Disability Management Unit, who has been helping such students on campus since 2014, intervened.

The disabled student registration and admission process are under the unit for easy monitoring during their studies.

“For cases such as Seri Irdina Syahirah and Tan, it is important for students to register with us so that we can take immediate action pertaining to their complaints,” he said.

Muhammad Firdaus, who is blind, said the number of disabled students at UM is 74 as per Semester Two (2018/2019).

Disability Management Services focuses on four key aspects — disabled student management, building accessibility and campus environment, learning and support as well as quality of life and career preparations.

“I put emphasis on building accessibility and campus environment which include transportation, accommodation and physical facilities.

“We have issued the UM Inclusive (Accessibility) Map for convenience of movement, not only for students with disabilities but also those who want to make their life simpler.

“With the map, students, friends and family members know the location of facilities such as toilets, wheelchairs and elevators with just one click of the site that is linked to Google Map,” added Muhammad Firdaus, who is pursuing the Masters in Counselling programme.

Two shuttle vans operate from 7.30am until 10pm on weekdays, fetching students with disabilities to and fro residential colleges and faculties.

“All academic staff provide assistance to disabled students during teaching and learning sessions so that they can fully participate in them and do not feel excluded and get left behind.

“This includes the provision of alternative materials, for example soft copy format for blind students, permission to record lectures and tutorials, choice of lecture room or hall that can be accessed by wheelchair-bound students.

“Lecturers and students can consult UPSOKU on the provision of support systems.

“Our services not only end here, as we also provide a platform for students to achieve high quality of life and prepare for future careers.”

The platforms include disabled student development programme, career path, sport, disabled student involvement in campus activities as well as practical training.

The varsity has more than 200 student volunteers, known as “buddies”, to help special needs students.

“They volunteer services from reading for the visually-impaired to assisting them in completing their projects.”

Other than empowerment programmes to help special needs students interact with their peers, the varsity’s inclusive policy also goes towards boosting awareness among students and staff.

The UM Voluntary Secretariat (SEKRUM) recently organised the two-day volunteer programme, Hero for the Blind, at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Programme director Nur Dini Mohmad Nayan said volunteers from diverse backgrounds learnt to approach visually-impaired students in the right way, without hesitation.

“The highlight was the information-sharing session on the right way to guide the blind on the move. Interestingly, all 31 volunteers, with their eyes closed, took part in recreational activities with MAB students.”

With the help of experienced instructors, volunteers played congkak, dominoes, chess, carom and a game called goalball.

The game is designed specifically for the disabled, where two teams consisting of three players try to score by placing a ball on a bell.

Nur Dini, a second-year UM Faculty of Business and Accounting student, added: “The volunteers were impressed with the dexterity of the visually-impaired who only depended on the senses of touch and hearing.”

She hoped that the programme will continue as a collective effort of students towards the pursuit of noble values that will help build a prosperous society.

“Every volunteer now has the ability to become a superhero to any disabled person in need,” she added.

UM Student Affairs and Alumni Division senior assistant registrar S. Ramlee Shamsuddin, who is also SEKRUM adviser, said the initiative not only provided the chance for volunteers to interact and experience the reality of life as a blind person, but it also had a larger aim to enhance the self-learning process to be concerned citizens in the community.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Inclusive education

Monday, August 27th, 2018

A DEAF person either cannot hear, or has never heard spoken languages – be it Bahasa Malaysia (BM) or English – used in education.

But to learn, they have to master at least one first language, which should be used as a medium of instruction and learning.

The mastery of this mother tongue is vital as a tool to learn a second language, which would either be BM or English, said National Education Advisory Council member Prof Dr Ruzita Mohd Amin.

“A deaf person is bilingual or bicultural. Early education of deaf children must emphasise the use of a language that is considered to be their first language. The Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) serves this purpose,” Prof Ruzita, who also heads the International Islamic University Malaysia disability services unit, and was the former member of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, said.

“I’ve had complaints that teachers who do not have skills in sign language are posted at schools for the deaf. It disrupts the delivery of knowledge and the effectiveness of our education system. Teachers in special education must be properly trained,” she said, calling for more special education programmes to be offered at universities.

She also suggested that a local version of the United Kingdom’s Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, be enacted.

Deaf students who make it to the tertiary level should join the same classes as hearing students, and sign language interpreters must be hired so that they are not sidelined.

In 2012, the then Higher Education Ministry (now merged with the Education Ministry) directed all public varsities to establish a disability services unit to facilitate the teaching and learning of students with disabilities.

This directive must be adhered to and extended to all private universities, she stressed.

A deaf child, she said, is a gift from God.

The word ‘deaf’ means inability to hear. From the community’s perspective, there is nothing wrong in the use of the word as it is an accurate description of their condition.

The word only becomes politically incorrect when it is used negatively. For example, when a person does not respond, statements like ‘Are you deaf?’, is used to criticise.

But the deaf are normal human beings granted with the same faculties as everybody else, she said.

It’s the duty of parents, teachers, and society, to mould them into academically and professionally successful individuals.

“Parents must nurture their deaf children with love just like they would any other child, and to do that effectively, parents must learn their language.

“Teach them how to be independent. Give them room to grow. Don’t be over protective as it would prevent the child’s self confidence from developing.

“Children need to be treated with respect and shown that their condition should not be a hindrance to their success in life.”

To give them access to education, the use of sign language must be promoted, and the services of sign language interpreters, provided.

Sign language courses should be offered in schools, colleges, universities, and in the workplace, to promote better communication and integration of the deaf into society.
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Inclusive education surpasses target

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

MORE than 40% of special needs students have enrolled in the Inclusive Education Programmes at national schools.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry surpassed its target of having more than 30% of special needs students involved in the programme.

In 2017, there were 40.88% of special needs students in the programme.

“What is more assuring is that we are trying to make sure none of our children are left out, and we also focused on special groups in society such as Orang Asli and indigenous students, high-risk students and special needs students,” he said when launching the 2017 Annual Report of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

“We will continue to increase the involvement of special needs students in school from time to time,” he added.

Dr Maszlee also said that the ministry will continue to “work hard” to ensure all children are given an equal opportunity for education.

“We should work together to achieve our vision without looking at gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status,” he added.

He elaborated that the “vision” was to achieve the six student aspirations in the Blueprint – knowledge, thinking skills, leadership skills, dual-language skills, ethics and spirituality and national identity.

Dr Maszlee said the Government invested heavily in education with RM42.9bil allocated last year.

He added that due to this big investment, there is a need to carry out mid-term reviews on the Blueprint to see if it needs to be changed or improved upon.

He added that every member of the education fraternity, including ministry staff and clerks, play an important part in ensuring the Blueprint is a success.

“We need to be courageous and honest to ensure that we are able to achieve our goals, because there is a new spirit and reality that requires us to challenge how we perform our existing duties.”

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said 2017 marks the second year of the second wave of the Blueprint.

“Therefore, it is every citizen’s aspiration that education initiatives launched by the Malaysian government are consistent, well implemented, and achieves the promised outcomes,” added Dr Maszlee.

He also said he welcomes, encourages and is leading the changes happening in the country.

“I hope that the transformation agenda in the Blueprint brings great meaning to all Malaysians.

By Rebecca Rajaendram

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Inclusive education for people with different abilities

Thursday, May 31st, 2018
UKM Second-year undergraduates experiencing a public transport ride with children from the Community-Based Rehabilitation Centre, Taman Ehsan Kepong.

IN the Unesco 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development unveiled in 2015, it was specifically emphasised that no one is “to be left behind” in the effort to achieve development for all.

Included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a focus on guaranteeing equal and accessible education to persons with disabilities by building learning environments and providing assistance.

United Nations estimates 15 per cent of the world’s population live with a disability. Current figures from the Social Welfare Department show the number of registered persons with special needs in Malaysia at 464,672, probably a fraction of the real figure.

While there is no breakdown of the number of children belonging to the school-going age in the registered, access to and availability of education catering to their special needs may still elude many, and many remain excluded from the mainstream community.

Professor Datuk Dr Norazah Mohd Nordin, dean of the Faculty of Education at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said that parents of students with different abilities want their special needs children to given appropriate education and be included as rightful individuals in society — be they physically disabled, visual- or hearing-impaired, or have learning difficulties.

Third-year undergraduates organising the Lensa Anak Istimewa programme at UKM.

“Parents now are more open and they want places and opportunities where they can bring their children to learn and be a part of society. There are instances where parents send their special needs child to a school 27km away from home just so the child can receive the right education. Yet there is a school nearby with empty classrooms that can be utilised for special education classes,” she added.

“The Education Ministry has set the target of 75 per cent of special needs students attending school by 2025. For this to happen we are suggesting that it increases the number of schools with special education programmes as the demand and awareness is there.”

In view of this, the faculty has redesigned its special education programmes — from the bachelor’s and master’s to doctoral — to be more inclusive in nature in line with the SDGs.

“The concept that we take on as a faculty is to offer community-based learning.”


Under the Bachelors of Education with Honours (Special Education) course, for example, the aim is to nurture special educators who are skilful, knowledgeable and possess the aptitude for education and rehabilitation according to different settings as well as those who can advocate for students with special needs and are knowledgeable on current issues, trends and practices, and research into special needs education.

“We work very closely with communities and also look into internationalisation. We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Daegu University in South Korea, which strength is in special education, and will be sending our students for training there under a mobility programme so they can gain the latest knowledge in working with the disabled communities in the country.

“We will also be doing more collaborations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the corporate sector to get students involved in programmes to immerse the special needs community in society,” said Norazah.

Associate Professor Dr Manisah Mohd Ali, who specialises in inclusive education, said the faculty also emphasises awareness of inclusive education advocacy, i.e. changing people’s perspective on children with special needs.

Sahabat Faqeh members practising signing in Arabic.

“For three consecutive years, master’s students have organised the International Day for People with Disabilities celebration. We will be holding the fourth celebration on Dec 3 which will see the attendance of the relevant communities and experts giving their support and taking part in the activities.

“For one semester, undergraduates are involved in activities at community-based rehabilitation centres under the Social Welfare Department. They organise events with relevant agencies to take the special needs persons at the centres out for a movie or spend a day at the zoo.

“We have had positive response from our students and it has opened their eyes to the public perspective on special needs people. The activities highlight the importance of supportive teachers to special needs children,” she said.

Senior lecturer Dr Norshidah Mohamad Salleh, a visual impairment specialist, who teaches the postgraduate consultation and collaboration course, works with NGOs and potential employers to expose special needs individuals to possible employment.

“The students identify and train special needs persons with specific skills as required by specific employers. These special needs trainees get the experience of working while employers get exposed to workers with special needs,” she said.

Norazah stressed that the faculty’s special education programme aims to produce educators who are far-sighted, who can source for facilities which can be utilised by those with special needs and get the community to accept students with special needs.

“We instil into our students the spirit of giving. They embrace



At Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s (USIM) Faculty of Quranic and Sunnah Studies the focus on inclusivity in education centres on providing the space and opportunity for spiritual awareness.

Norakyairee Mohd Raus, head of the Ibnu Ummi Maktum (UMMI) cluster at the faculty, said that people with non-typical levels of ability are often left out of religious education. UMMI focuses on research into the Quran and sunnah for special needs people.

“Religious schools and classes have no place for people with different abilities — like those with visual or hearing impairment or learning disabilities. Therefore, there is a lack of understanding and less priority given to issues regarding special needs and no formal knowledge of how to teach religious education to those with special needs,” he said

USIM kicked off its efforts in religious education for special needs people in 2006 when it embarked on research into Quran in Braille studies.

“While once not even one university in Malaysia offered Quran in Braille studies, there are schools offering the service like Princess Elizabeth School in Johor Baru.

“Visually-impaired students learn to recite the Quran from repetitive listening and memorisation. Only a few teachers could teach students to read the Quran in Braille but they were untrained.

“This prompted us to create a module for the Quran in Braille learning method.

“And in 2008, the faculty set up the Braille Application in Quran and Sunnah Studies — a compulsory course for its students — a first to be offered at higher education level.”

In the course, students are taught to identify the Arabic Braille alphabet, and the reading and writing format for Quranic studies.

USIM students trying their hand at writing Braille.

Norakyairee added some quarters questioned this move because the area of special needs education is not one that the faculty covers. “But this is the first move to create awareness among the public on the importance of religious studies among the differently abled in a non-ad hoc, yet focused manner.”

The effort later expanded to religious education solutions for the hearing-impaired and those with learning disabilities through partnerships with organisations such the Foundation of Quranic Education for Special Needs Children (also known as Yayasan Faqeh).

In 2012, students at the faculty did practical work with special needs children at Yayasan Faqeh. The exposure and collaboration resulted in the establishment of USIM’s Friends of Faqeh group, better known as Sahabat Faqeh, a volunteer group which organises outreach programmes for those with different abilities.

With the knowledge they gained through programmes at the faculty, Sahabat Faqeh members organised periodic activities such as Kem Huffaz Pekak Remaja, Jom Dhuha and Dakwah Tanpa Suara.

Nur Awatif Izzati Mohd Talib, a third-year Bachelor in Quranic and Sunnah Studies student who is Sahabat Faqeh deputy chairman, said the group aims to train undergraduates to approach those with special needs when carrying out religious outreach programmes.

“You can’t just simply approach them — there are specific ways to do it. The activities we carry out also create awareness among the public that those with special needs too can be included in religious studies and programmes.

“From my experience in working with those with special needs, I learnt that volunteer work comes from the heart. We can learn so much from those with special needs,” she said.

Sahabat Faqeh chairman Muhammad Zainul Abidin Mohamed Tahir, a third-year Bachelor of Sunnah and Information Management programme student, said that the group will be embarking on more programmes for those with different abilities.

“They include hiking with people with different abilities where we will attempt to infuse religious aspects into the activity. Religion can be learnt away from the confines of a classroom or mosque,” he added.

USIM will be organising a convention on dakwah to reach out to special needs people in September. Students from all universities in the country are welcome to participate.


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Education for all students

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR : THE Education Ministry is holding true to its promise of increasing access to education for all, by giving due attention to special needs students and continually finding ways to improve special education.

With 78,310 special needs students in the country registered with the ministry up till today, the ministry and the government are not hesitant to invest in them with hopes that they will in the future be among contributors to a greater Malaysia.

A spokesperson for the Special Education Division said, since 1990, Malaysia had been showing significant progress in special education, primarily on its curriculum, teacher supply, pedagogy, as well as the establishment of the Special Education Department, which has now become the Special Education Division, a clause on special education in the Education Act 1996 and the introduction of the Education Rules (Special Education) 1997.

“Currently, we have special needs students in 34 special education schools, 2,272 national schools that offer the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) and 4,995 national schools that offer the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI).”

The PPKI sees special needs students study in the same school as mainstream students but in different classes, while the PPI sees special needs students immersed with mainstream students in the same classes.

The Special Education Division was in charge of special education schools which are made up of 28 Sekolah Kebangsaan Pendidikan Khas, two Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas and four Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional nationwide

“Education Rules (Special Education) 2013 defined special needs students as those among six categories, which are hearing-impaired, sight-impaired, speech-impaired, physically-impaired, learning difficulties and multiple disabilities.

“The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) also called for increasing enrolment of special needs students in the PPI by improving the quality of the programme offer holistically.”

With the aim to produce quality human capital, special needs students are not trained to just follow instructions but to also have knowledge, skills and good character, constantly be on the road to self-improvement and have the ability to work with minimal supervision.

In relation to achieving the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) and producing an excellent younger generation in 30 years to come, teachers must be creative in educating students, including special needs students.

“The mode of learning for every special needs students is different and they need well-planned, relevant and realistic pedagogy modifications.

“Teachers must be the thinkers of pedagogy in planning, moulding and producing dynamic approaches to the teaching and learning process.”

Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Shah Alam is one of the four special education schools that specialises in vocational education.

The school’s administration senior assistant, Khairulanuar Suhib, said the school offered 10 courses for special needs students, including desktop publishing, hairdressing, housekeeping operation, furniture production and operation, as well as batik production and operation.

“All our courses have been certified by the Skills Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) and consists of three phases.

“The school currently has 205 students, where 101 of them have learning disabilities, 97 have hearing disabilities, six have multiple disabilities and one has physical disabilities.”

The classes, he said, have an average of eight students and two teachers, making it easier for lessons to be individualised and focused on each student.

The teaching and learning process ensured that every student is given their own time and space to learn according to their own ability and not more than that.

In addition to specialised classes and top-notch teachers, special needs students are also given allowances of RM150 a month, which adds up to RM1,800 every year for each student.

“One hundred per cent of their food is sponsored while they are in school and they can even go back home from their hostels every week.

“To go to school, they only need to bring personal belongings, other than that, the ministry has been gracious enough to sponsor,” he said.


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Being Poor Should Not Prevent One From Obtaining Education – Lam Thye

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

JOHOR BAHRU, Jan 8 (Bernama) — The people should not use the excuse of lack of funds to prevent their children from getting an education, said Eco World Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

This was because the foundation which was set up in May 2014 had spent RM5 million a year to assist students from poor families, he said.

He said the foundation had forged cooperation with the Education Ministry to identify students who were eligible and excellent in their studies and would continue to assist them up to the level of higher education.

“Education is a most important tool for children in the world, and it is the only investment that can truly change their fate,” he told reporters after attending an Excellent Award Ceremony for Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) 2016 Yayasan Eco World, here last night.

“We set up the foundation in May 2014, and to date we have assisted more than 3,000 students from poor families,” Lee said.


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Crucial to understand needs of young people — British High Commissioner.

Friday, December 11th, 2015

KOTA KINABALU: Mindful of the fact that youths play an important role in determining the future of a nation, not only has she made young people’s agenda an area of personal interest, but it was also part of British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell’s strategy engagement here in Malaysia.

And one of the programmes that reflect the high commission’s commitment to this particular agenda is the organising and hosting of a filmmaking programme, featuring local youths presenting films focusing on issues that concern them and their community.

“They (the youths) will be the inheritors of the decisions that are made today by those currently in power, whether in organisations or the government. Hence, it is very important to understand what young people feel, what their ambitions are, where they want to go, what they want to achieve.

“Lights, Camera, Youth, Action, where three young people will be presenting their films and those films will contain themes, about issues, that are close to them, that matter to them, that concern them,” she said in a press conference at the Sabah Art Gallery here yesterday, where the films were being screened.

‘Lights, Camera, Youth, Action!’ was a programme celebrating proactive youth, community empowerment and local filmmaking, organised by the British High Commission as part of its youth engagement programme called the Successor Generation Initiative (SGI), which was launched earlier this year.

Three groups of community filmmakers from Sabah screened short films highlighting community issues and climate change concerns.

This set the scene for a dialogue where youth participants shared their views on the topics concerned, moderated by Adrian Lasimbang, an Orang Asal rights activist and renewable energy developer and practitioner.

Melissa Leong, festival director of the Borneo Eco Film Festival, (BEFF) also gave a short talk on community filmmaking.

The first film screened was ‘Mastal Arikik’, a film by the Wanita Pulau Omadal (WAPO), that tells a heart-warming tale of a young boy living on Omadal Island, who at a tender age is already helping to educate the island’s children by working as a teacher in a local primary school.

‘Kisah Budak Jalanan’ by the group Greens Semporna was filmed in Semporna, revealing the desperate circumstances faced by local stateless children who often have no opportunities to receive education, exist well below the poverty line, and turn to drugs from a very young age as a means of coping with their harsh realities.

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Of kids and inclusive learning

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Children with special needs and capabilities must be nurtured and allowed to grow alongside their ‘normal’ peers at school for better outcomes.

I HAVE been motivated to write this article on special needs education, a topic that is close to my heart especially after attending an International Conference on University Learning and Teaching that I officiated at recently.

It was organised by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), with the co-operation of several local and foreign universities, including University of Herefordshire (UK) , University of South Australia (Australia) , University of Ohio (in the United States) and Taylor’s University (Malaysia).

Also, I have come away impressed with the positive outcomes of inclusive learning that have brought out the best in special needs students like Siti Nabilah Saiful Wong, 13, who was also named “Academic Icon 2014”.

I must point out that special needs education in the country is an area that has been given more importance in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

The Education Ministry offers three options under the National Special Needs Education system specifically for those with hearing, visual or learning disabilities.

They include:

• Five secondary schools, three vocational colleges and one school each for children with visual and hearing disabilities;

• Special education integrated programme which has a special class in 2,000 government or government-aided schools and

• Inclusive Education Programme (pupils with disabilities or special needs who are placed so that they can integrate with other students in mainstream classes).

I am focusing on inclusive education as the landscape of special education which involves multiple stakeholders including parents, NGOs, the Health Ministry, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry as well as the Human Resource Ministry and the mass media.


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All children deserve a chance

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Those with special needs must have access to mainstream schools, and inclusive mainstream schools are the best way to overcome discrimination.

LAST month was Autism Awareness Month and many events were organised by various groups to inform the public about autism. I attended quite a few events, but mostly in the Klang Valley.

Some of the media, including this newspaper, took part too. Various articles were published, and interviews broadcasted, to tell the public about autism.

All these are very good to see. I applaud everyone who took part in the initiative.

Without getting too technical, autism is a “spectrum disorder” which means the severity of symptoms ranges from a mild learning and social disability to severe impairment, with multiple problems and unusual behaviour.

The disorder may occur alone, or with accompanying problems such as mental retardation or seizures.

Autism is not a rare disorder.

Its cases are found throughout the world, in families of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.

Doctors, politicians and rubber tappers alike are known to have autistic children.

Looking back to when I was in primary school in Sekolah Kebangsaan Dato Ariffin Mohd Nam in Perlis, I think at least two to three of my schoolmates were actually autistic. But at that time, in early to mid 1980s, knowledge about autism was relatively lower.

And if you consider the fact that my primary school was in a rural area, halfway between Kangar and Padang Besar, I guess it is not surprising that the teachers were not yet well equipped to detect the condition.

Today, many things have changed. Parent and teacher awareness has increased tremendously. The government too has done a lot.

The successful International Seminar on Autism that was held in Putrajaya on April 22 – April 23 was just one example.

The Education Blueprint that guides the work of our Ministry of Education has a section dedicated to children with special needs.

It states a clear aim of making our schools inclusive.

The Blueprint acknowledges the 1994 Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education by saying that those with special needs must have access to mainstream schools and that mainstream schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of overcoming discriminatory attitudes.

At Ideas, we too are trying to do our part. In early 2012, two friends, Mustaqeem Mahmood Radhi and Mohd Fakhri Noor Affandi, called me up suggesting we meet for some teh tarik.

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

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Special schools for the visually, aurally impaired students

Monday, March 10th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: The Education department (JPN) has provided two special education schools for students with visual and hearing difficulties so far.

Its Director Datuk Jame Alip said that to date, there are a total of 70 special education integrated programme for primary schools and 52 for secondary schools throughout the state to cater the needs of special children education.

He was delivering his speech at JPN Gala Night which was launched by the Head of State wife, Toh Puan Hajah Norlidah Datuk R.M. Jasni at KDCA hall here, on Saturday.

He urged principals, headmaster, teachers and district education officers, parents and non-governmental organisation to work together to realise the aim to provide equal opportunities in education for the special students.

“The Education ministry is very concern towards the need of students with special needs especially education. In line with the Education Development Plan 2013-2025, the government will expand the education access to the students with special needs so that they receive equal rights in education,” he said.

Yesterday, the guests were presented with performances by special students such as singing and dancing. A special student from Tuaran, Mohd Amar Amirulamin Mat Zin who is visually impaired has won the second place for Tilawah Al-Quran, third place in memorising Al-Quran.

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