The focus of this study is to compare the educational philosophies, policies,and practices between Malaysia and Japan, with regard to the education of children with special needs. Malaysia and Japan have some common historical experiences in that both countries were involved in the Second World War, both were colonised and given independence by Anglo-American powers. Geographically they are both in Asia. A significant difference between the two countries is the homogenous nature of Japan’s population and the pluralistic multicultural, multi lingual, multi ethnicity and religions of Malaysia.
Japan is a developed and industrialised country whereas Malaysia is developing and targeting to be an industrialised one. Japan’s population of 127 million dwarfs Malaysia’s 29 million. It is needful to examine the set up of other countries, discover the root of the problems and analyse their solutions so as to better understand one’s own education system, avoid mistakes made and adopt suitable models accordingly. Hence, in this comparative study, an Asian country was chosen over an Anglo-American one, because Japan and Malaysia are both culturally group-oriented, power concentrated, inclined to be replicative and relationally holistic.
As such it is probably easier to relate to contextually in matters relating to adapting globalised best practices in a culturally sensitive way. This paper seeks to look at the special educational policies and philosophies of both countries, study their practises, identify key issues and challenges faced, and to discover possibilities for mutual exchange, growth and development. There has always been a personal interest in Special education probably from parental influence and also from exposure to special people at a very young age.
The increasing awareness of Special Education in Malaysia can undoubtedly be attributed to regular reporting by the media and the escalating pervasiveness of information technology available to the masses. In recent years, Special Education has given more attention to a wide range of learning difficulties, including dyslexia, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], Asperger’s syndrome and so on, with focus somewhat moving away from visual, hearing impairment and physical, mental impairments.
This is probably because in most developing and developing countries, visual and hearing impairments have already well-established special educational practices. For example, Special schools where various learning aids, such as sign language, Braille and magnified letters are used to accommodate the students’ teaching and learning needs. Some countries such as Japan and the United States of America (USA), have advanced to providing not only basic education but also pioneering tertiary education for the visually and hearing impaired. Different forms of learning difficulties have emerged over the past 25 years and are probably still emerging.
In the past, these special needs (learning difficulties) were all classified under mental retardation, but as discoveries continue to be made and learning difficulties are classified differently, statistics show that mental retardation worldwide has dropped considerably. As these conditions are discovered and researched, some theories about these conditions change and some evolve due to these theories being challenged or disproved and new theories being proposed. For example there is a wide range of autism, from highly-functioning to deeply autistic.
Some children who were diagnosed as autistic ten years ago, are now discovered to have Asperger’s disorder. Disorders along the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continuum include autism, pervasive developmental disorder, Rett Syndrome (American Psychiatric Assocciation, 1995) and Asperger’s disorder. Since ASD exists along a spectrum, intervention especially communication intervention must be highly individualized ( Schreibman, koegel, Charlop, & Egel, 1990), thus intervention-wise, a child with Asperger’s Disorder is to be regarded quite differently from an autistic child.
The field of special education has seen growth that has been unprecedented and it is likely to continue with more contemporary curricula, programmes, materials and resources evolving at a rapid rate, driven by a developmental theoretical perspective. In response to the increasing number of children diagnosed with special needs and especially that of learning difficulty, it is imperative that policies, philosophies and practice of special education need to be redefined, reviewed and refined to cater for the development and nurture of these children.
Common special needs include challenges with learning, communication challenges, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and developmental disorders. There are many famous personalities who have special needs and disabilities but have excelled in sport, fine arts, physics and in the music and movie arena. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps made history by breaking records and winning eight gold medals. He also inspired thousands by speaking candidly about having ADHD.
His mother has also been very public about telling their story. Professor Stephen Hawking, a renowned Physicist, is a well-known example of a person with multiple neurone disease who has against all odds, succeeded in life. Hawking cannot walk, talk, breathe easy, swallow and has difficulty in holding up his head. He could have well been classified as mentally retarded and severely physically handicapped and discharged to a home of the Spastics, yet he defied his doctor’s prognosis of not surviving more than 21 years.
Stevie Wonder was born prematurely and as a result, he was never able to see. Wonder stands out as one of the most celebrated American musicians of all time. To his credit, he has won 26 Grammys and an Academy Award. This has earned him rightful standing in the Rock and Roll and Songwriter’s Halls of Fame. Phelps was told that he could never focus on anything, Hawking, that he wasn’t an exceptional student and Wonder, that he could never make it in life.
They are an inspiration to one and all, both stakeholders and non-stakeholders alike. On this note let us look at Japan. JAPAN [pic] Figure1. 1 Map of Japan For many, the word Japan conjures up mystical Samurais, beautiful, graceful and demure kimono-clad geisha girls, sashimi (Japanese raw fish), beautiful spring apple-blossoms, ancient temples, lightning–fast bullet trains, Toyotas and Hondas, even the Iron Chef competitions and the list goes on; but education is certainly not an image that fills your mind when you hear the word Japan!
Japan is an island country located in the Pacific ocean. It’s an archipelago of over six thousand islands, the largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku accounting for 97% of Japan’s land area. Japan is often referred to as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ because the Japanese characters that make up Japan’s name, Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku means ‘sun origin’. Most of Japan’ s islands are mountainous and many are volcanic which is not surprising as Japan sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and an active volcano that last erupted in 1707–08. Japan has a population of 127 million people, ranks the tenth-largest populated country in the world. Tokyo is the capital of Japan with a population of 12 million. It is the Japan’s centre for culture and education and also the nation’s economic and industrial hub. The main language spoken is Japanese and most Japanese are of the Shinto-Buddhism faith.
Since 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected Prime Minister as head of government, with an elected parliament called the Diet. It is a highly industrialized, developed country and a major world economic power. Japan has the world’s second-largest economy and the third largest in purchasing power parity. It is also the world’s fourth largest exporter and fifth largest importer. It is the only Asian country in the G8 and a current non-permanent member of the United Nations (UN) security council.
According to both the UN and World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world, and the third lowest infant mortality rate. History of Education Japan’s education maybe conveniently divided into pre-World War II(WW),post WW II, and modern Japan. On the whole, pre-WWII education was controlled centrally by the government, the education philosophy was guided by the Imperial Rescript Education (1890), Japanese values and Confucian principles were taught and stressed by society.
Primary education was available to all but secondary and tertiary studies were elitist and discriminatory. This old system collapsed at the end of WWII and the United States Education Mission (1946) introduced new ideas and structures into the Japanese system such as extending free but compulsory education from six to nine years, higher education became more non-elitist, social studies was emphasized above moral studies, school boards were locally elected as opposed to being appointed under the old system, and teachers unions were formed.
In 1952, Japanese sovereignty was restored and many reforms reverted back to the old system; school boards were by appointment, Japanese ideals moral studies were put back into the curricula but the 6-3-3 structure intended at democratizing education remain until today The University Control Law (1969) and other reforms emerged in the 70’s. Education in Contemporary Japan is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (known also as the Monbukagakusho or MEXT).
Three tiers of administration attend to the financial and supervisory educational services; namely the national (MEXT0, Prefectural (upper tier) and municipal (lower tier). There are five levels of schooling in Japan: Preschool which is free to all but not compulsory, Primary and Lower Secondary levels which are free and compulsory, and Upper Secondary and Higher Education which are neither free nor compulsory. The Fundamental Law of Education, the School Education Law and the Social Education Law provide the philosophies, policies and practices throughout the nation.
The Japanese value educational excellence at all levels and their education system is thought to be extremely prestigious. Japan is consistently ranked at the top internationally in both Maths and science by the TIMSS (Trends in Interntional Maths and Science Study). Japanese education helps build student motivation. Their philosophy emphasizes effort over ability hence in the Japanese classroom, everyone is taught the same concepts and students are engaged in higher-order thinking skills.
Correct answers are withheld and students are presented with material such as puzzles and encouraged to think of as many ways as possible to solve the problem. Fast and slow learners are not separated and advanced students help the less able, cooperation, a sense of belonging and oneness are fostered. This attitude is particularly important when it comes to special children. Special Education in Japan A brief history In 1878, the first special school for children with visual and hearing impairment was established in Kyoto.
The first special class for children with intellectual disabilities was set up in 1890 in Matsumoto City, in Nagano Prefecture. To date Japan has 222 and 210 years of history respectively in the area of Special education, a figure to be proud of indeed. The number of special schools and special classes for children with various kinds of disabilities increased favorably until around 1930, but thereafter the WWII devastated special education. At the end of the WWII, the external number of special schools for children with blindness and deafness was still more than 100, but most schools were burned by air raids.
In the case of special classes, all were closed except one in Tokyo, at which the children were also moved to rural areas without schools, let alone special classes. Special education had to be reconstructed after the WWII based on the philosophy of democratic education, which was introduced by the educational policy the United States who was then the occupation army. In 1947 compulsory education for primary school and lower secondary schools was introduced.
Special education was rapidly rebuilt beginning with visual and hearing impairments schools and classes, followed closely by schools for intellectual disability, physical and health impairment. The development of special education since the end of WWII maybe seen as (1) Development of special schools and special classes. 1947- 1979 (2) Movement of integrated education – 2000 (3) Development of special needs education. – Present day The motto of the Special Needs Education System of Japan (SNES) – Where children with disabilities learn – is bold and apt.
Looking at Figure 1.2, it is clear that special-needs children are given due consideration at all levels from pre-school right up to upper secondary school. Figure 1. 3 show that as the degree of disability goes from mild to severe, the children are correspondingly moved from regular classes with team-teaching, achievement-based teaching ,small-group classes, Special Support Service in resource rooms, to special classes and then on to Special Needs Schools. The four categories of special needs, the blind, the deaf, the intellectually disabled, the physically disabled and the health impaired in figure 1.
4, show the ratio of children with multiple disabilities in Special Schools in elementary and lower secondary levels. Due to increasing number of students with multiple disabilities, there is a move away from of schools catering only for single disabilities for example the blind or deaf. Japan has a national curriculum standards for children with disabilities called ‘the Course of Study or Gakushyu-shido-yoryo for schools serving the blind ,the deaf, children with physical and mental disabilities and health impairments. It can be amended when necessary to tailor to specific needs for these children.
Parents, school board members and or medical and social personel are consulted in order to determine which curriculum suits the child best, be it one to one teaching, small group teaching, individual teaching plans or inclusive integration onto regular classes. Even when there is profound disability, the child is eligible for education according to their needs. In some cases teachers visit homes or institutitions to provide home tutoring. In major hospitals classes are available for children necessitating hospital treatment. Only 0. 001% of children in Japan are allowed postponement or exemption from school education.
Teachers in Special education are required to have a license for special education in addition to their basic teaching license. The NISE provides highly specialized training courses. Local Special Education Centers in prefectures offer programmes to upgrade or learn new skills. Case conferences and Teacher’s study-meetings are conducted at school level. The NISE conducts research such as nationwide surveys to assist in making future national policies with regard to special education. At prefecture level, research and development schools and model schools are present throughout the country.
Local Special Education Centers, Colleges and Universities conduct ongoing research on teaching methods to enhance Special Support Education. As part of the 2007 reform, the SNES aims to have schools for Special Needs Education where staff are competent in knowledge and understanding on more than one disability, so that students with multiple disabilties are be accepted and integrated into each local community. By mid 2010, Japan plans to launch their first graduate school for students with visual or aural impairments at the state-run Tsukuba University of Technology, their only University for the deaf.
According to the university, it will be the world’s first graduate school for visually- impaired students and the third for hearing-impaired ones, following the footsteps of such schools as Gallaudet University in the United States, Master’s degrees will be offered: Industrial technology for visually challenged students and health science courses for hearing-impaired students. Academia is possible to all, those with special needs and those without, unless there is brain injury and the cognitive abilities are damaged. As the adage goes “There is no learning disability only teacher inability”.
[pic] Map of peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo)Fig 1. 2 Malaysia, is made up of West Malaysia (peninsular Malaya) and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak states) in nothern Bourneo. It is a land of beauty in its diversity, located in the heart of South East Asia, see figure 1. 2 which had for centuries attracted merchants and traders plying the ancient, lucrative spice and silk route between India and China. It is therefore no surprise that Chinese, Indian and Malays are the major contributors to Malaysia’s rich and vibrant cultural heritage, together with the indigenous people.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi lingual and multi-religious society, known for their warm hospitality, interesting and delicious variety of food and a delightful fusion of cultures making Malaysians attractive and unique. Bahasa Malaysia is the official language, but English is taught as a second language and many Malaysians are tri lingual: proficient in their mother tongue, in Malay and in English. Malaysia is well endowed in natural resources such as minerals,[ mainly tin and petroleum] agriculture and forestry.
It is one of the world’s top exporters of natural rubber, palm oil, sawn timber, coca and pepper. Malaysia boasts of rich biodiversity and a wide habitat range, in the Gunung Mulu National Park, and in the Mount Kinabalu district of Sabah. Both have been marked as World Heritage Sites. In 2009 two interesting and historical townships, Malacca and Penang were also given World Heritage status. Today Malaysia is an independent nation state with a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Kuala Lumpur is the largest city and the capital of Malaysia. It is also the main financial and commercial centre of the country.
Malaysia is recognized as an emerging industrialized country with a GDP per capita PPP ranking at 48th in the world and second in South East Asia. For the past 20 years, Malaysia has been on a fast track development drive with measurable physical and economic success. Unfortunately, services and facilities enabling tangible inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWDs) into their communities were not developed in tandem, resulting in Malaysians with Disabilities excluded from enjoying a barrier-free environment and normal enriching independent lifestyle.
There is a pressing need to firstly look at the education commitments of Malaysia to the children with disabilities so that indeed the mission of the Ministry of Education ‘To develop a world-class quality education system which will realise the full potential of the individual and fulfil the aspiration of the Malaysian nation” can achieved, and to reach their objectives stated below: – To produce loyal and united Malaysians. – To produce happy, well mannered individuals who have faith, knowledge and vision. – To prepare the nation? s human resource for its developmental needs. – To provide educational opportunities for all Malaysians.
HISTORY OF EDUCATION Pre WWII, secular schools were mainly an innovation of the British colonial government, and English-Language schools were considered prestigious at that time. Post WWII, education was mainly aimed to feed the needs of the colonial government though the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities fought hard for their mother tongue to be used as a medium of instruction. Post independence (1957) in accordance to the national language policy, the government began to change English-medium primary and secondary national-type schools into Malay-medium national schools.
In 1970, the language change was made gradually starting from the first year in primary school, was completed by the end of 1982. Malaysia’s belief that (NEP),New Economic Policy 1960-1970, the National Development Policy,1071-1990, The first to ninth Malaysia Plan, 1991-2010, ensure adequate funds to the Education sector for the development of the nation’s human resource and capital. It is through this course of action that the Malaysian Education system succeeds in responding to the issues of access, equity, quality and effectiveness of education for all Malaysians in a 6-3-2 structure.
Education in Malaysia is overseen by two government ministries: the Ministry of Education for matters up to the secondary level, and the Ministry of Higher Education for tertiary education. Each state has an Education Department to help coordinate educational matters in their respective states, although education is the responsibility of the federal government. The Education Act of 1996 is the main legislation governing education which designates six years of primary education as compulsory. Pre-school is optional and most pre-schools are for profit and privately run.
Five years of secondary schooling is not compulsory. For their pre-university studies, students have an option of doing two years of Form six or the Matriculation. Free education is provided from Primary one right up to Form six. A Brief History of Special Education Jabatan Pendidikan Khas (JPK) or the Department of Special Education, from being just a unit in the Education Department was established as a Department in its own right in 1995. It plays a major role in curricula planning and implementing the quality of special education programmes in both the primary and secondary schools in Malaysia.
However the programmes for the deaf have a much longer history, the first residential school for the deaf was established in 1954. Interest towards Special Education in Malaysia began in 1920s among volunteers who were involved in the opening of schools for the hearing and visual impaired. The Cabinet Committee Report that studied the Implementation of Education Policy through the Recommendatory 169 was the beginning of a clearer focus and emphasis on the development of Special Education in Malaysia.
The recommendatory says that: “With the awareness that the government should be responsible towards the education of disabled children, it should then take over all the responsibilities from the organizations handling it currently. Moreover, the involvement of volunteers in developing the education for disabled children is encouraged. ” SPECIAL EDUCATION PHILOSOPHY.
The MoE Philosophy for Special Education states that ‘Education is given to develop the students physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually so that students can be educated to the highest possible level to enable them to obtain employment and live independently’. Programmes are based on the following policies: • Education Act 1996, Chapter 8.
• Education Act (Amendment) Act 2002. • Education Regulations (Special Education) in 1997. • Policy Committee decision, the Ministry of Education [Education Planning Committee (SRC), Meeting Management Ministry of Education, Centre for Curriculum Committee (DFA) and Department of Management Meeting Special Education]. International Declarations: • United Nations’ World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (1983). • The World’s Declaration on Education for All (1990). • The United Nations’ Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons With Disabilities (1993).
• The Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (Salamanca Statement) in 1994. • Biwako Millennium Framework for Action Towards an Inclusive Barrier-Free and Rights-Based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific (2002). Three ministries service children with disabilities. They are, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (WFCD) and the Ministry of Education, but education for these children are only under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of WFCD.
The Ministry of Education provides educational services for students with special needs who have visual and hearing impairment, learning difficulties, and those needing special remedial help. Learning disorders are categorized as follows: – Downs Syndrome – Mild autism – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Mild Mental Impairment and – Specific learning disabilities (eg. Dyslexia). The Ministry of WFCD provides services for children with the following problems: – severe physical disability – moderate and severe mental retardation – various other defects such as ??
and – defects that do not allow the children to learn in schools provided by the Ministry of Education. Special Education Department’s Vision and Mission JPK’s vision statement is ‘Quality Education Generates Excellence Among Students with Special Educational Needs in line with the National Education System’, with the mission to develop excellent special needs human capital based on a holistic, relevant and quality education system so that there is – Optimum development the individual’s potential – Ability to compete and be marketable.
– Moral values as a responsible citizen – Smart partnerships with various parties The Special Education services provided by the Department of Education are: • Special schools for pupils with visual and hearing impaired and learning (secondary). • Special Education Integration Programs for students with special needs and learning disabilities, impaired hearing and sight impaired. The program is available in non-residential, normal primary and secondary schools as well as in Technical/Vocational training (secondary) schools which adopt withdrawal or semi-inclusive approach.
Programmes such as the Special Education Integration Programme and the Special Rehabilitation Programmes are fully administered at state levels by the State Education Department, whereas the Integration of Special Education Programs in Technical and Vocational Education is administered by the Department of Technical Education. The Malaysian Education for All Mid-Decade Assessment Report 2000-2007 states that one of the strategies is to expand preschool places for children with special needs from 32 integration classes to 100 classrooms in order to integrate children aged 5-6 with single disability, usually the learning disabled.
Expansion necessitates therefore training the necessary preschool teachers and teacher assistants and also the proviso to amend the Special Education Regulations Act 1997 to accept students with two disabilities. UNICEF, working together with the Ministry of Health’s Development Division (MHDD) devised a standardised screening tool in 2006 to improve the early detection of autism amongst toddlers so that early intervention can be instituted.
Issues with Sexual and reproductive health for children with special needs are also looked into, in response and recognition of their high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation, because it directly impacts their learning and overall development. ANALYSIS Japan as a leading economic power and highly industrialised country and Malaysia as a developing and emerging industrialised one, have commonalities in that were both affected deeply by WWII, and both were dominated by a foreign power, so it is interesting to see each country recovered, rebuilt and developed post-war and how Special education has evolved since then.
Looking at the philosophy with regard to Special Education mentioned earlier on, both Japan and Malaysia are very similar in that both are highly commendable, comprehensive and impressive, subscribing also to many international special-education charters such as The United Nations’ Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons With Disabilities (1993). |Mission and Vision of JPK Malaysia
|Mission and Vision of the NISEJapan | | |The mission of our institute as the National Institute of | |JPK’s vision statement is ‘Quality Education Generates Excellence |Special Needs Education is to contribute to:Improving the | |Among Students with Special Educational Needs in line with |quality of education for children with disabilities and to | |the National Education System’, with the mission to develop excellent|make educational provision to meet individual educational | |special needs human capital based on a holistic, relevant and quality|needs.
We aim to do this by working with the national and | |education system so that there is |government organizations. Our vision is | |- Optimum development the individual’s potential |Research Activities that contribute to National | |- Ability to compete and be marketable |Administrative Needs | |- Moral values as a responsible citizen |-To undertake research that contributes to the formulation | |- Smart partnerships with various parties |of National Policy for Children.
| |- Providing education opportunities and facilities for students |Practical Research that contributes to Education | |with special educational needs. |- To undertake advanced and practical research that | |- Providing relevant education to every student with special |contributes to education | |educational needs. |Specialized Programs for Teacher Training | |- Providing opportunity for students with special educational needs |- Provide systematic and special training for the school | |to develop their talent and potential.
|staff who plays the role of leadership in special needs | |- Providing sufficient and up-to-date teaching and learning |education from local public organization and support them. | |material. |Training Programs that Respond to New Challenges | |- Ensuring sufficient trained teachers in special education. |- To implement training program for the major issue of | | |National Policy and/or urgent issue at educational site | |- Planning and managing all primary and secondary special schools. |flexibly and promptly.
| |- Planning and coordinating all special schools integration program. |Counseling and Consultation that Provide Activities that | |- Planning, coordinating and evaluating policies and regulations, to|Supports Local Public Organizations | |ensure education is well-balanced, to help, service and support |- To conduct consultation and provide the information for | |students with special educational needs and implement the special |counseling and consultation to the organizations. | |education vocational policy.
|Provide Information for Special Needs Education | |- Planning curriculum, activities and special education affairs. |-To collect, analyze, arrange and make database of the | |- Providing special education planning, research and evaluation. |information on special needs education from domestic and | |- Providing training plan and staff development; and |overseas and provide comprehensive information to teaching | |- Coordinating Special Remedial Education Program. |site. | | |Cooperation and Partnership with Universities and | | |Organizations in Domestic and Overseas.
| | |- to collaborate and cooperate with universities and | | |organizations locally and abroad through seminars, to | | |research, analyze and evaluate the issues, and to share our| | |practical research results in special needs education. | One difference in their philosophy is that when it comes to learning, the Japanese put value and emphasis in effort over that of natural ability, resulting in primary school students being taught in classes that have not been streamlined into good, average or poor students, whereas stream lining students according to their academic performance is practiced by Malaysia and many other countries.
It follows then that, if effort is put into the education of a special-needs child, the child can reach its full potential given all the necessary support. This attitude has given Japan an advantage of having an over 200 year history in educating people with special needs, which began with addressing the visual and hearing impaired. The Japanese School Education Law places special education firmly within the framework of the total education system by emphasizing that it is not separate from ordinary education. Japanese special education now officially recognizes seven categories of disability: the blind and partially sighted, deaf and har.