By Aida Mokhtar
GOMBAK, 23 February 2019 – The newly formed IIUM Special Parents Group which is affiliated with Disability Unit recently had an informal meeting with the Director of Research Management Centre (RMC), Prof. Dr. Ratnawati Mohd Asraf, to discuss special needs research problems and possible research grants and publications.
The Disability Unit is headed by Prof. Dr. Ruzita Mohd Amin.
The IIUM Special Parents Group was formed by Dr. Aida Mokhtar, a Communication lecturer, and Prof. Dr. Ruzita in October last year. There are now over 50 special parents in IIUM who are members of the group. Fifteen percent of the population in Malaysia have special needs.
Prof. Dr. Ratnawati told the informal research meeting that there is the need for more academicians to conduct research studies to further develop special needs areas.
The discussions with Prof. Dr. Ruzita had touched on problems special parents had encountered on a daily basis with their special needs children’s schooling where research problems were developed from real life experiences.
Some of the research problems encompass the issues with special needs education, the negative perception towards people with special needs, the need for special devices in assisting people with special needs for their independence, the issues with current laws and policies related to special needs, communication issues of special needs, and the problems associated with the future of special needs children beyond school and others. The research studies could involve academicians from social sciences and the sciences.
Dr. Ratnawati also mentioned that there are research grants from private and governmental organisations including the Ministry of Education, Malaysia, and international organisations that could be sought to assist academicians in their research studies on special needs areas.
She said the proposals submitted should be of interest to the funding bodies concerned for them to be approved and awarded the grants as the Malaysian government would be interested in research topics that are related to the National Research priority areas that include computer sciences and Information Communication Technology (ICT), engineering, medical and health sciences and social sciences and humanities. These could be related to the needs of special needs people by producing frameworks, practical inventions and innovations.
The discussion also touched on publications in journal and book form on special needs areas to be churned out by academicians with the idea of creating awareness of research on special needs areas.
There is also the issue of the lack of acceptance of some special needs people and their families by the mainstream society in Malaysia, thus, the need to create greater awareness for better acceptance and inclusion of this group.
The meeting raised the significance of going back to basics emphasising the importance of recalling the national education philosophy in Malaysia that focuses on continuous effort of developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner that requires to include special needs education as well. ***