The Ministry of Education, Malaysia in its report entitled ”The Development of Education” for the International Conference on Education in Geneva on November, 2008; stated that “inclusive” means creating schools which welcome all learners, regardless of their characteristic, disadvantages or difficulties. It is including the traditionally excluded or marginalized groups: such as disabled children, girls, children in remote villages, and the very poor. These invisible groups are excluded from governmental policy and access to education. So it is making these invisible groups visible in schools.
Measures taken to improve the rights to education and Inclusive education of Malaysian Citizens:
- Since 2003 – compulsory education was implemented, aimed at ensuring every child has the right to be educated in the formal institution at primary level.
- In 2008, free education was introduced; whereby education was fully funded by the federal government and students do not have to pay any kind of tuition fees.
- The Ministry allocated nearly RM 1.0 billion yearly to provide support programmes to needy students such as:
- Food Nutrition Programme to increase students’ health, safety, discipline, and well-being. In 2006, nearly 707 thousand children enjoy a daily breakfast before school; and a School Milk Programme to nearly 570 thousand students;
- School Health Programme;
- Guidance and Counseling;
- Boarding facilities;
- Trust Fund for poor students. In 2005 about 29.4 million USD were allocated to 857,319 needy primary and secondary students.
4. Free Textbook Loan Scheme: Beginning 2008 school session, all students irrespective of their families’ income (about 5 million students) benefited from this scheme.
5. Scholarship and Loan facilities: About 230,000 secondary school students benefited from it.
6.The Ministry of Education provides standardized national curricular which is cultural, gender and disadvantages bias.
- For children with special educational needs – special curricular have been set up to cater for the individual needs of the child.
- The Curriculum Development Center (CDC) has developed alternative curriculum eg. the Integrative Curriculum for Pupils of Orang Asli and Penan. In March2007 – the curriculum was piloted in six (6) Orang Asli schools and in 2008, it was piloted in six (6) Penan schools.
7. Remedial and enrichment Programme : Remedial and enrichment programme was introduced to address the issues of bridging the gaps between:
- Rich and poor;
- Rural and urban;
- Interstate diversity.
8. Increase the right to education for at risk children:
- Student with special educational need are provided with special educationthrough 32 Special Schools and 1,282 Integrated Programmes (special classes in a mainstream school) for visual and hearing impairment, and learning disabilities. Total enrolment for those programmes are 29,169. Among the facilities provided by these schools are:
- Residential facilities;
- Two (2) vocational special education secondary schools to provide skill base education for disable children (2 more will be built in the 9th Malaysian Plan);
- Flexi educational programmes;
- Disabled Students Allowance: In 2006, RM 7.8 million Ringgit Malaysia has been allocated – benefiting the 29,169 registered disabled students.
- Vocational subject (MPV) – a programme for non academic inclined students.
STATUS OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION PRACTICE IN MALAYSIA FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS.
1. Students with hearing impairment.
- Primary level of education – are segregated from mainstream learning. They received their primary education either in special education school or in Integrated Special Education Programmes (SEC) in mainstream schools.
- Lower secondary education – They are integrated into SEC in mainstream schools.
- Upper secondary education – Students could proceed with upper secondary education in either special education secondary school or integrated programmes in mainstream schools for academic option. Students opting for academic subjects is SEC are usually taught separately from their mainstream counterparts. Students in secondary technical / vocational schools are taught separately from mainstream students for three (3) subjects (Malay Language, Religion/Moral Studies and Mathematics). They are fully included in mainstream classes for vocational and technical subjects. On average about 90% of the students education in these schools take place in mainstream classes with their mainstream peers.
- At tertiary level – there are three (3) polytechnics which provide higher education for students with hearing impairments.
2. Students with Visual Impairments:
- Phase 1 of primary education: During the first three years of primary education – students with visual impairments in integrated programmes in mainstream primary schools are usually segregated from mainstream learning.
- For the next 3 to 5 years of their primary education - various degrees of inclusion are being practiced for these students.
- The degree of inclusion for each of these individual depends on the student’s ability to cope with mainstream learning.
- The majority of visual impaired students in integrated programmes are included in mainstream learning for all subjects as intellectually, these students are perceived able to cope with mainstream learning and their ability to follow verbal instruction.
3. Students with Learning Disabilities:
- All students with learning disabilities are educated within integrated programmes as no special education schools were established for children with learning disabilities (mental retardation).
- The decision to include these students rest entirely on the school’s administrative prerogative based on advice by the school’s special education teachers.
- Two generally accepted criteria for inclusion of children with learning disabilities:
- They are able to manage themselves without help;
- They do not have behavioral – conditions that could caused disruption to mainstream learning.
4. How does Malaysia address the Unreachable Children:
- Malaysia sees the indigenous people and the minority ethnic children living in the very interior as the unreachable pupils.
- One of the challenges in ensuring participation among this pupils is having a customized curricular as an alternative to the national curricula.
- To prevent drop-outs during the transition from primary to secondary, a special comprehensive school model was launched. The Comprehensive School is actually a primary school with extended lower secondary education and usually equipped with residential facilities.
Implementing inclusive education in Malaysia is not an easy task. It challenges the present educational practices and administration. Education for all without discrimination is crucial in developing country to produce citizens who are productive and are able to contribute to the country’s changing economy. Further improvement of the present system requires systematic change and full support from all parties concerned.
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