Access to education, a basic right of every human being

By Haidah Halid 

GOMBAK, 21 September 2021: IIUM Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Hasan emphasised today the importance of executing inclusive education for all, including for the disabled.

He said this when delivering his opening remarks at an international webinar on “Implementing Inclusive Education Best Practices for Intellectual and Non-Intellectual Disabilities in Higher Education: The Malaysian and Australian Experiences”. 

“Access to education, including higher education, is a basic right of every human being where nobody should be left behind,” Dr. Zulkifli said.

Deputy Rector Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Hasan, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Izyani Zulkifli and a BIM Interpreter at the webinar session

His statement is in line with the fourth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which is ensuring an inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all including the disabled.

Dr. Zulkifli further said that IIUM is doing its part in actualising this goal by guaranteeing a significant number of disabled students into the institution as compared to other public universities.

As of now, IIUM has a total of 85 students and 14 staff of different disabilities. Besides that, 72 IIUM academic and administrative staff are parents to special needs individuals as well as part of a support group known as the special parent groups.

Dr. Zulkifli said,”One of our very own, Dr. Ruzita Mohd Amin, Head of the Disability Services Unit, was appointed as a member of the Ministry of Education’s national education advisory council together with a team of experts to draft guidelines for the disabled inclusion in higher education institution policy, launched by the Ministry in September 2019.”

This encouraged IIUM to enforce policies that include allocating three specific residential colleges for wheelchair bound disabled students in ensuring the campus grounds are made friendly for individuals who require special assistance as well as promoting equal opportunities for all in seeking knowledge.

Fellow panelists who participated in the webinar were Prof. Dr. Ruzita Mohd Amin (Head of the Disability Services Unit, IIUM), Assoc. Prof. Dr. David Evans (Professor of Special and Inclusive Education, University of Sydney), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mary-Ann O’Donovan (Executive Director of Centre for Disability Studies, Trinity College Dublin) as well as moderators Prof. Dr Mohd Nizam Barom (Kulliyyah of Economics and Management Sciences, IIUM) and Dr. Hasrul Hosshan (Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris or Sultan Idris Education University).

The attendees of the webinar summed up to a total of 50 people including from a few governmental and non-governmental organisations such as The National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM).

The webinar was organised by the Disability Services Unit (ODRSDCE), IIUM, in collaboration with the Centre for Disability Studies, University of Sydney, Australia. ***

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