More than 200 people tuned in to last Saturday’s Coffee Talk @ OUM session on lifelong learning with YB Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Mohd Radzi, YB Senator Jaziri Alkaf Abdillah Suffian and senior lecturer Dr Wong Huey Siew. And those who did found it absolutely eye-opening.
Streamed on 27 November from Tan Sri Dr Abdullah Sanusi Digital Library, the talk was one of the University’s initiatives to promote lifelong learning among people from all walks of life, including people with disabilities (OKU).
OKU community representative YB Senator Datuk Ras Adiba was definitely in her element. She urged higher education institutions to provide equal opportunities and rights to learners with disabilities, especially with regards to admission and learning support. She emphasised the need for infrastructure, software, and services that take their disabilities into consideration.
She began the session with a strong statement: “Our disabilities are actually our abilities. Each one of us has our own unique ability. So, please don’t discriminate the OKU community at universities. Let’s open our minds, especially when it comes to lifelong learning. We should treat everyone equally, disabled or not.”
She believes universities should provide disability equality training so that lecturers, staff and learners can better understand the OKU community. As a ‘Malaysian Family’, she added, all of us must be proud of our community, whether this means the abled-bodied or the disabled.
She applauded OUM for embracing OKU learners, providing tuition fee discounts, and easing the enrolment process by recognising their work experiences.
Speaking on youth and lifelong learning, YB Senator Jaziri believes lifelong learning should be instilled from an early age so children can be excited about learning and continuously carry that drive all the way to adulthood.
He commended OUM for championing lifelong learning as this would be a relevant avenue moving into the future.
He said, “We have to encourage and develop the young generation so that they will be part of the engine for growth and nation-building. We should inculcate purposefulness among the youth, so they can play a role in creating a better nation. I believe OUM has the platform to do that, as the University is already giving access to education for all, and the opportunity for people to improve and grow.”
Dr Wong, who is also programme director for the Bachelor of Psychology programme, was candid about sharing his ups and downs in life. Losing his sight at the age of 11, Dr Wong’s own study journey was challenging in every single way, but he powered through to successfully earn the title Doctor. He has even paved the way for others in the OKU community to follow suit by earning their degrees.
Moderated by professor at the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Tajudin Md Ninggal, the key point from the discussion was clear: stop discriminating and stigmatising people with disabilities. We all have a role to play to educate people and change our perspective, especially in the context of ensuring education for all.
Thus far, OUM has enrolled almost 500 OKU learners, and 210 of them have successfully graduated across different study levels in a variety of academic disciplines.
With the online audience showering the online chat box with compliments and positive comments, all would undoubtedly agree that the coffee talk had been a resounding success.
Those interested in catching the recording of the talk can click here.