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KUALA LUMPUR: Adopting a ‘heart-based’ approach towards nurturing future leaders must be considered as part of a strategic plan for students with special education needs (SEN), Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia chairman Nori Abdullah(pix) said.

She said in this context, a heart-based approach means conscientiously having the quality and matters of the heart inform one’s decisions, actions and outcomes.

It is also practising things like compassion, empathy, consideration, kindness and love, which are universal and do not require to be of a particular religion or faith, she said.

“... if we believe that leaders need to have compassion, empathy and things like courage and a conscience, it will simply take these same qualities to nurture them in young people.

“By definition, you can’t nurture (future leaders in young people) without qualities of the heart,” she said in her keynote address at the inaugural Kiwanis Malaysia Academy SEN Symposium 2021 via Zoom today.

Also present were Education Ministry's Director of Special Education Needs, Salmah Jopri and Kiwanis Malaysia Academy Chairman Datuk Fatimah Saad.

Nori said the SEN field needs to recognise teachers who appreciate the importance of building a connection and relationships with their students, and not just with mathematical equations or science formulas.

“We need educators who are skilled enough and better equipped to teach all types of learners,” she said.

Besides that, Nori also noted that Malaysia has a shortage of teachers and subject matter experts to special needs children, and this problem has been identified by local SEN experts

“The world benchmark (number of SEN teachers and experts) is one to four, and we (Malaysia) are at one to ten,” she added.-Bernama