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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

MOHE denies disability discrimination; screenshot reads otherwise


The Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) has denied rejecting a student’s application to pursue tertiary education because of her disability.

Instead, they claimed the application by "Karishma" (not her real name) to enter Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Asasi Pintar Pre-University Programme (APP) was denied because her results did not meet the minimum requirement.

This in contrast to a response from the UPU Online system telling her that she could not be admitted into the programme because the university did not have the facilities to accommodate her disability.

In a statement issued today, ministry director-general Husaini Omar said the applicant did not meet the minimum requirements to make her eligible for UKM’s APP programme.

“The minimum entry requirement into UKM’s APP programme is that the applicant must achieve 7A- in certain SPM subjects including Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

It was previously reported that "Karishma", a 2019 Sijil Pelajaran Candidate (SPM), received 9As in her SPM examination making her eligible to pursue higher education at a public university.

Karishma became ill after the SPM, which caused mobility issues and made her physically dependent. She can now move around using crutches or a wheelchair.

In a call to Malaysiakini, a Higher Education Ministry spokesperson revealed that Karishma got a B+ for Biology. Karishma confirmed this when contacted.

“The (UPUOnline) system automatically rejects an admission when a student does not meet the minimum requirements,” the spokesperson said.

However, the ministry's clarification is in stark contrast to Karishma’s experience and the explanation she first received when she sought answers from UPU Online.

She was initially shortlisted for UKM’s APP programme and had attended an interview as well as submitting all the documents required, including a video submission.

But her application remained blank during the UPU Online Update Phase, and she was then given the option to only choose from two diploma programmes and 20 community college certifications on the website.

Told to withdraw

An inquiry she made through the UPU Online website’s feedback system cited her disability as the reason why her options to further her education was limited.

“Upon review, this candidate has a disability, therefore the candidate may only apply for programmes that have been listed - based on the type of disability - because the university programme that the candidate has applied for does not have the facilities to accommodate disabled candidates,” was the response "Karishma" received.

It added that the programme choices for her had been updated based on her requirements and the availability of disabled-friendly facilities as determined by the universities.

A ministry statement also highlighted that the student had previously rejected a diploma programme in Medical Laboratory Technology at the Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (Unisza) for the 2020/2021 academic session.

Karishma told Malaysiakini that her parents were hesitant to send her away to the university for that academic year as she was still physically dependent.

“I was still new to using a wheelchair and needed help doing daily activities,” she said.

She claimed that Unisza had initially requested her to submit a deferment but later on suggested that she withdraw from the university.

“They (Unisza) told us to email them a withdrawal request and apply again the following year through the UPU to get a university with disabled-friendly facilities,” she said.

The Higher Education Ministry statement also said that the Inclusive Policy for the Disabled in higher learning institutions was still being implemented.

“Disabled applicants, registered with the Social Welfare Department, who submit an application through UPU Online will be considered for admission without merit subject to meeting the general and minimum conditions set according to the programme of study applied for.

“The offering of programmes to disabled students is through an agreement by the institution taking into account the availability of disabled-friendly infrastructure at the institution to ensure the disabled can follow the teaching and are learning comfortably.

“The offering of these programmes also takes into account the academic achievements of the students,” added the statement.  - Mkini

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