The objectives of the exercise to map Policies, Programmes, Interventions and Stakeholders for Children With Disabilities in Malaysia are as follows:
1. To map all the national stakeholders on the issue of children with disabilities and their roles and responsibilities;
2. To map available services in the country for children with disabilities;
3. To identify gaps in policies, legislation, participation and service delivery
4. To understand the extent of the abilities of these organisations to advocate and influence policy decision-making as well as influence the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of programmes and services.
Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 with several reservations, of which 5 currently remain. As a consequence of its obligations under the CRC, in 2001, Malaysia enacted the Child Act 2001 (Child Act). In 2008, Malaysia enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act (PWD Act). In 2010, Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) with two reservations. However, Malaysia has yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CRPD.
There is no national Act specific to children with disabilities. The rights of children with disabilities to care, protection and development are subsumed primarily within the Child Act and the PWD Act and fall under the Constitutional umbrella of protection of fundamental liberties under the Malaysian Federal Constitution.
The primary national stakeholders that provide programmes and services for the care and development of children with disabilities are the Department of Social Welfare (Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD), the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
Policies at a ministerial level are framed for persons with disabilities as a general class or for children as a general class. Goals and strategies for the care, protection and development of children with disabilities filter down from policies for these general classes.
Through the conduct of this mapping exercise, a number of gaps in legislation, policies, participation and service delivery were identified. In the course of the mapping exercise, the interconnection, but lack of effective synergy, in the provision of healthcare, education, rehabilitation, protection and welfare services to children with disabilities was apparent. The lack of an integrated national policy or statement of direction that cuts across service sectors likely contributes to the barriers faces in healthcare, education, rehabilitation and protection services for children with disabilities. One of the recommendations of this study is that the crafting of policies, strategies and services in these areas should be holistic, multidisciplinary and coordinated.
In November 2012, Malaysia together with other members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), adopted the Incheon Strategy to "Make the Right Real" for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. The Incheon Strategy comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators for improvements on the quality of life and the fulfilment of the rights of persons with disabilities, strengthening social protection and enhancing accessibility to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge, information and communication. One of the key principles and policy direction of the Incheon Strategy is "respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities".
Malaysia will be adapting its national policies for persons with disabilities in light of its commitments under the Incheon Strategy. It is hoped that the gaps in existing policies, programmes and service delivery that have been identified in this report will assist in the revision and improvement of policies and strategies for children with disabilities.
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