6 in 10 people are under-informed about childhood disability


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6 in 10 people are under-informed about childhood disability

New UNICEF study shows children with disabilities often face stigma and discrimination

Kuala Lumpur, 5 October 2017 – Six in ten people surveyed do not have enough information about children with disabilities, UNICEF said in a study released today at Petrosains. This is the first nationwide research to shed light on the perceptions, attitudes and practices towards childhood disability in Malaysia.

Findings from the research reveal that knowledge about disability is low and that children with disabilities, their parents and family face real stigma and discrimination at home, in schools and other environments in Malaysia.

“Little research has been undertaken regarding children with disabilities in Malaysia. This study provides us with nationwide evidence that children with disabilities are too often hidden, discriminated, and left out in society,” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF representative in Malaysia. “Because of insufficient knowledge and incorrect information, we disable children with disabilities. But now we can make the decision to enable them. The biggest barriers are in our hearts and minds. With the obstacles removed, children with disabilities have the opportunity to develop and reach their full potential for everyone’s benefit.”

As part of efforts to build a more inclusive society with and for children with disabilities, UNICEF and Petrosains co-organised the #ThisAbility Makeathon 2017. The event aims to showcase the creativity of Malaysians living with disabilities and their families at inventing assistive devices to improve their lives at home, during play, or in school. Through the Makeathon, children with disabilities and their families received the support needed to prototype a product which would make living with disabilities easier.

The winner, Branden Lim, was announced today by Lisa Surihani, UNICEF National Ambassador, and won a USD5,000 (RM20,000) grant to manufacture their winning design for distribution within the disability community in Malaysia.

“It takes a community with a lot of heart to raise a child with disabilities,” said Edmund Lim, the father of Branden, a child who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and the winner of the Makeathon. “Branden is slowly losing the ability to hold on to things like a brush, spoon or pencil, so we prototyped something to help him overcome this disability. This Makeathon has given us the resources to further develop the product. More importantly, we have a platform to meet others on the same mission; to turn ideas to reality, enabling children with disabilities to gain some ability”.

Branden’s device was one of nine #ThisAbility Makeathon 2017 projects. #ThisAbility Makeathon 2017 is powered by Tandemic, supported by local maker labs, Biji-biji Initiative, KakiDIY and MyCRO and driven by children with disabilities and their families.

Petrosains, which hosted the #ThisAbility Makeathon, is the first private company in Malaysia which has committed to become Champions of Inclusion with UNICEF. As part of a signed Memorandum of Understanding, both organizations agree to collaborate on creating a more inclusive learning environment through the use of technology and innovation. Insights gathered through this platform on the ways in which children with disabilities experience learning will then lead to the co-creation of innovative solutions to overcome learning barriers. Additionally, as Champions of Inclusion, Petrosains agrees to develop inclusive services for children with disabilities.

“Through our partnership with UNICEF, a world renown organization leading the world standards for children’s rights and inclusion, Petrosains hopes to learn more of how we can make our offerings more inclusive for all, including for children with disabilities” said Yang Mulia Tengku Nasariah Tengku Syed Ibrahim, CEO of Petrosains. “By taking into account the key findings of UNICEF’s study on disability, and by being attuned to how certain disabilities change the way some children engage and experience the world, Petrosains will take efforts to ensure our vision of creating wonder and inspiring learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is more accessible. Indeed, I believe designing exhibitions and programmes that cater for people with disabilities simply means a good design for all. We have lots to learn and do in this regard, perhaps also affecting others to do the same as we pursue this much-needed journey in our nation”.

Note to Editors

About the Report

‘Childhood Disability in Malaysia: A study of knowledge, attitudes and practices’ is a report commissioned by UNICEF in 2016. The study covered four different states across Malaysia namely Selangor including Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak. A total of 756 participants and respondents were involved in the study.

About #ThisAbility Makeathon 2017

The #ThisAbility Makeathon 2017 is inspired by the families of children with disabilities to showcase the adaptive designs they have invented to accommodate living with disability. The objective of the Makeathon is to produce a final, professional-looking product alongside a DIY guide and costing plan.

Nine teams are given an array of materials and paired with specialist innovation maker labs for technical advice and support. Three local innovation maker labs supporting the #ThisAbility Makeathon are Biji-biji Initiative, KakiDIY and MyCRO. The first segment of the Makeathon happened on the 22nd of July 2017 in which the teams developed a prototype. In the weeks following, each team were given one-to-one sessions with a specialist maker labs to refine their prototypes into robust products.

About Petrosains

Petrosains, The Discovery Centre, is an exciting and contemporary science discovery centre that features interactive exhibits and vibrant scientific programmes. To reach more people and spread its “Creating Wonder” essence in the nation, Petrosains has established many outreach offerings including mini science centres across the nation (Petrosains PlaySmarts), travelling exhibitions (Petrosains DinoTrek and PETRONAS StreetSmart), national level science competition (Petrosains Science Show Competition), community events (Petrosains Science Festival) and many others.  Petrosains also engages with its audiences through digital offerings such as the Petrosains website, learning blogs and social media platforms.


Petrosains was established by PETRONAS in 1999 as part of its corporate social responsibility initiative in the pillar of education to provide a rich and stimulating environment to enhance science literacy in the nation and ignite the passion for life-long knowledge attainment in people.  Petrosains is located in the PETRONAS Twin Towers at Level 4, Suria KLCC.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.my

For more information, please contact:

Rachel Choong, UNICEF, +6012 416 2872, rchoong@unicef.org

Azura Daud, Petrosains - The Discovery Centre, +6012 346 4121, azura.daud@petronas.com  Farrell Tan, Orchan Consulting Asia, +6012 396 2500, farrell@orchan.asia




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