Maszlee: Make IPTAs OKU-friendly

GOMBAK: All public higher education institutions (IPTAs) must become completely differently abled people (OKU) friendly within the next decade.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said this is part of the guidelines for the OKU Inclusion in Higher Education Institutions Policy that was implemented in January.

“We do not want any more cases where students who fulfil the requirements are not accepted because they are differently abled, ” he said during the launch of the guidelines yesterday at the International Islamic University (IIUM).

“The reason for this inclusive education policy is to eliminate the separation of OKU students from other students.”

Maszlee said the policy must be implemented by IPTAs over the next 10 years through short-, medium- and long-term plans that are comprehensive, practical and realistic.

He said that it is everyone’s responsibility, not just the ministry’s, to ensure that the OKU community’s rights are protected.

This year, Maszlee said, a special entrance stream into IPTAs has been created for OKU, B40, athletes and Orang Asli.

He added that the ministry has already implemented a Zero-Reject Policy in national schools so that no child is denied their right to education.

He said among the points touched on in the guidelines are barriers in the system that discriminate against the OKU.

An example Maszlee gave is the maximum graduation period which needs to be extended for the OKU as most need more time to complete their studies.

Study materials that cater to those with different learning abilities should also be provided, he said.

He said the lack of ramps and lifts as well as narrow toilets need to be looked into.

Maszlee acknowledged that the ministry does not have the funds to do all the upgrades.

He said as of now IPTAs are using their own funds to carry out the changes.

He also urged the private sector to step forward and help fund the changes needed for the benefit of the OKU community.

Maszlee said the guidelines state that all IPTAs must set up an OKU Services Unit that is separate from the Students Affairs Unit.

The OKU Services Unit will cater to both OKU students and staff, he said, adding that he hopes the new unit will be placed under the vice-chancellor’s office.

Although private higher education institutions (IPTS) do not need to follow the guidelines, Maszlee said he hopes they will also adopt it.

Universiti Malaya, IIUM and Universiti Sains Malaysia have implemented the policy while the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus is one of the IPTS doing so, he added.

IIUM rector Prof Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said providing OKU with the necessary support will give them access to quality education, ultimately developing both themselves and society.

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