KUCHING, Nov 19 — Federal Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development has proposed to amend the term ‘Orang Kurang Upaya’ (Individuals with Disabilities) to ‘Orang Kelainan Upaya’ (Individuals with Different Abilities), but the abbreviation remains the same — OKU.

Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says currently, her ministry is seeking approval from international organisations to replace the term as it is not solely the decision of the local government, but the matter is also established at international level.

“Malaysia adheres to terms set internationally, so we can’t change it immediately. Discussions and meetings with various international bodies are necessary before this alteration can be made,” she said in a press conference held after officiating at the National Special Education Seminar conducted by the National Association of Early Childhood Care and Education Malaysia (NAECCEM) in Santubong here yesterday.

Elaborating, Nancy emphasised the need to change the term ‘individuals with disabilities’ due to concerns within the industry regarding the development of the special-needs community.

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“It’s undeniable that within this group, some are not disabled, but have different abilities, possessing their own capabilities; hence, they request a shift in terminology to ‘persons with different abilities’.”

She also highlighted the commitment of the Department of Welfare (JKM) under her ministry to develop more Special Needs Childcare Centres throughout Malaysia.

“Eleven such centres have been established nationwide, including one in Sibu,” she disclosed.

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“However, I aspire to see more centres catering to targeted children across the country, ensuring that they would not miss out and would continue to receive quality education.

“Therefore, our ministry welcomes and is ready to collaborate with any non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and institutions ready to realise this goal.”

Nancy also called upon all segments of society to collectively promote awareness of the significance of special education.

“Through seminars like this, we can use them as a starting point to further efforts to ensure proper focus on the education of children with special needs in the future,” she added. — Borneo Post