Special Education, also known as special needs education, refers to educational provision for students with disabilities that provides accommodations (adaptations) according to individual student’s needs and disabilities to help them to learn. It does not mean solely placing students with disabilities in ‘special’, segregated classrooms or schools. However, it is commonly implemented in this way. Ideally, special education is tailored to meet the needs of students with disabilities via adapting learning goals, learning materials and instructional strategies, as well as providing adaptive equipment and making the school environment accessible.
Students with disabilities eligible for special education provision should have an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) that outlines what the individual student with disability needs in order to succeed in school, i.e.:
- Educational expectations that are specific to the student,
- Supports and services that the student will receive, and
- Monitoring mechanisms to evaluate the student’s progress.
Ideally, the IEP is planned collaboratively between school teachers, parents/caregivers, relevant professionals supporting the student, and the student herself.
Special Education as Defined in Malaysia
“Special Education” means an education for a pupil with special educational needs in a special school, or school which implements the Special Education Integrated Programme or Inclusive Education Programme, at the level of: (a) pre-school education, (b) primary education, (c) secondary education, or (d) post-secondary education.”
— Special Education Regulations 2013 (under the Education Act 1996)
Special Education Provision in Malaysia
Under the Ministry of Education (MOE), children with disabilities of schooling age (7 years old) who are registered with an OKU card have the option to enrol in either:
- Special Education schools,
- Special Education Integration Programme (Program Pendidikan Khas Integrasi – PPKI) – educational programme provided in segregated classrooms within mainstream school compound, or
- Inclusive Education Programme (Program Pendidikan Inklusif – PPI) – placement in mainstream classrooms fully or partially in certain subjects.
Students with disabilities who are found to have difficulty keeping up with the national curriculum will be taught the alternative curriculum, i.e., Kurikulum Pendidikan Khas Bermasalah Pembelajaran (Special Education Curriculum for Learning Disabilities).
All students under the purview of MOE’s Department of Special Education should have an Individualised Education Plan (IEP), which is updated yearly and shared with parents. Parents can access their child’s IEP from Sistem Rancangan Pendidikan Individu (RPI).
*Note: Resources linked are in English and pdf or webpage format, unless stated otherwise.
Legislation and Policies
Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Section 28: Access to Education)
Education (Special Education) Regulations 2013 (Peraturan-Peraturan Pendidikan (Pendidikan Khas) 2013) – Available in pdf format in both Bahasa Malaysia and English
Articles, Reports and Research Papers – Malaysia
Articles, Reports and Research Papers – International
Eliminating Ableism in Education by Thomas Hehir