|27 Sep 2023|
|2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize|
Growing up in a family of teachers Wan Muadzam was so often in a school environment that he confessed to being bored when he was a young student himself and at the time harboured no ambitions to follow in the family teaching tradition. Drawn to motivational and outdoor camping activities, on completing his degree, his areas of expertise lay in recreation and forestry, often as a program facilitator and guest speaker.
It was while in this role facilitating an outdoor water therapy recreation program for primary school students with various disabilities in 2007 that he helped a youngster suffering from cerebral palsy. He was struggling with the activities due to nerve damage in both hands, but his fingers loosened up in the water, enabling him to pick up stones for the first time. His parents who had accompanied him wept with joy when they saw this, and their reaction had a profound effect of Wan Muadzam, realising he had done something very meaningful in the life of this family. Finding it hard to sleep afterwards and turning the incident over in his mind in the days after returning from his trip, he confided in some of his friends who were teachers at the time, deciding to become a special education teacher.
Considering himself “just an ordinary teacher” he is nonetheless highly motivated in seeking ways to help, support and encourage his students, especially the visually impaired, succeed and master as many skills as possible. Wan Muadzam showcases his various innovations and advocates for his students via social media platforms, in order to dispel societal myths about them, demonstrate they can do anything, and enhance their acceptance and employability, which has attracted the attention of the Ministry of Education. As his students became more interested in the great outdoors due to his encouragement, in 2011 he took three of his blind students to the top of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
His acclaimed use of and development of assistive tools includes the Caballus Rafvi, a running aid in the form of a foldable wheeled trolley made from PVC pipes and joint connectors, that allows his visually impaired students to participate in athletics on their own without assistance. Another is a Braille Al-Quran reader enabling his students to win various Al-Quran reading and Hafazan Al-Quran competitions up to the national level. As an athletic coach for the state of Selangor, he implemented a 2017 talent search program for visually impaired youngsters normally overlooked by the system, creating a special athletics competition they could participate in.
As Secretary of the Selangor State Special Education Teacher Council he shares skills and experiences of the teaching profession with 7,000 special education teachers throughout Malaysia. He also works closely with the Ministry of Education on textbook and curriculum development, as well as Braille textbook development and individual education plans online, in conjunction with UNESCO. Speaking at conferences and events internationally and sharing his story via a multitude of media outlets, Wan Muadzam has also won several awards including Klang District Special Education Teacher Icon 2021 and Top 5 Rise Educator Award 2023.