PETALING JAYA: Nurturing children with special education needs (SEN) requires certain qualities that stem from the heart, said Yayaysan Budi Penyayang Malaysia chairman Nori Abdullah (pix).

“It means practising things like compassion, empathy, consideration, kindness and of course, love,” said Nori in a keynote speech at the inaugural Kiwanis Malaysia Academy SEN Symposium 2021 via Zoom on Saturday.

“These are universal and do not require us to be of a particular religion or faith.”

While our thoughts may separate us, our emotions and feelings are the same, she added.

Nori, who is the wife of Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, asked since when the cerebral approach became prioritised in dealing with special needs children.

“In dealing with things that concern human beings, how can we not but be guided by what humanity has in common?”

Nori said the SEN field needs to recognise teachers who appreciate the importance of building connections 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.

Nori also pointed out that Malaysia has a shortage of teachers and subject matter experts for addressing the requirements of special needs children.

“The world benchmark (number of SEN teachers and experts) is one to four, and we (Malaysia) are at one to 10,” she said

Also present at the symposium were Education Ministry Director of Special Education Needs Salmah Jopri and Kiwanis Malaysia Academy chairman Datuk Fatimah Saad.