Educator’s take: Venus Lim


In Dika, whenever the subject involves “special needs”, there’s no other befitting person to consult than Venus Lim Ee Chiew (Venus Lim). With many years of experience in music and movement, early childhood, and special education under her belt, Venus Lim can be considered a specialist in those industries. Students, colleagues, anyone who has worked with her, can attest to her passion and drive to bring the special education industry out from the shadows and into the light. 

Although her journey in special education had taken quite a few detours, she has never looked back since diving into the world of special needs education. 

We catch up with her to know more about her journey, aspirations, and goals, and even her most challenging moment yet. 

“But special needs, I love it so much; it’s so interesting, different, and unique. And, the impact it had on me, I was more aware of myself, my surroundings, the people I connect with, I just love it.”

The Change of Rhythm

You graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Westminster, UK. What made you decide to switch to early childhood education and later in special education?

After I graduated with my degree in music, my friend and I ventured into a music production line, But, being a music engineer in Malaysia is tough. The odd working hours, the industry itself, especially if you want to make it big in Malaysia, is not easy at all.


Venus Lim shares why combining music and teaching children with special needs is a great idea.

So, one day I took my niece to a music and movement class, and that’s when I thought “Hey, this is something that I can do!” [laughs] But, even before that event, my sister has been operating a Taska herself, so I had an early exposure to early childhood education.

I did a Montessori certificate soon after and I was enjoying my time as a music and movement teacher for a few years, and a friend asked if I wanted to know more about special needs and basically, after that, I couldn’t stop already [laughs]. I even did a year plus of being an au pair in New York, which was something I never thought of doing. 

But special needs, I love it so much; it’s so interesting, different, and unique. And, the impact it had on me, I was more aware of myself, my surroundings, the people I connect with, I just love it. 


Venus Lim (middle) hosted a Music and Drama Day with Tadika Aspirasi Murni  for the Music and Movement Class attended by 20 children and 4 teachers

That’s quite a journey you’ve been. Between music and special needs, which one is your favourite?

I’m going to say both! [laughs] Actually, I didn’t really let go of my music and movement. I sort of merged the two together. And the reason I stayed was that I really liked the industry a lot. I have a lot of confidence in myself. In fact, the more involved I am in it, the more attached I feel towards special needs. I have a clear direction of what I want to do. 

Was combining music into special education something that you thought of or perhaps a proven effective method of teaching children with special needs?

Well firstly, it’s my passion and to combine the two just makes it easier for me, because I enjoyed it very much. Secondly, with music and dancing, of course, the atmosphere is different! [laughs] It takes away all of the stress of teaching and as for the students they get to learn better because they enjoy the process of learning. 


Collaboration with various educators to provide the best learning experience for her students thus instilling the right attitude and mindset for them if they decide to be an educator one day. (pic) Drum circle session with alumni, Koh Ching Ngee, physical and virtual workshop 

Of course, there are numerous researches conducted to show how music positively impacts the child’s learning and mind-development, but for me personally, it’s the enjoyment of it. Because, if I don’t like it I am unable to teach properly. It’s a two-way interaction, it’s fun and a holistic approach. It’s always a positive vibe in the classroom. And it’s definitely easier to approach the parents as well [laughs]. The parents get to release some of their stress, whenever they join the class, they can see their child’s improvement and progress. So, that’s what I liked about it. 

Any memorable challenges you faced along the way?

Every. Single. Time. [laughs] We are always faced with challenges. As an educator, every day, in every class, every student is different. 

But, if I have to pick my most memorable incident yet, it would have to be when I was still teaching at the enrichment centre, and one of my students had his biggest meltdowns and it ended with both of us getting injured. 

So, after the incident, I discussed with the boy’s parents and the other teachers to allow him to come back. I wanted him to come back to my class. I didn’t want to stop just because of one fateful incident. And eventually, he did come back to my class properly. So, he never rejected me or my class, it was just something that happened. So, that was one of my biggest lessons. 

“The rejection stems from the lack of understanding. We are afraid of the subject. We don’t understand yet we don’t even dare to take the first step to try and understand and so, we would stay in that same spot forever.”


Let’s talk about special education itself. How has that changed you since you started to dive into this industry?

Over the years, I think I am more aware of myself and the people around me. I believe that you can’t really separate special needs, it’s in our daily lives, it’s something that we should be comfortable with and always talk about. 

I think the impact was felt on other people, those close to me. So when you are more aware and understanding of other people, then, the empathy and then you start taking actions to do better. That is an education that is not outlined in any course content or textbooks. The rejection stems from the lack of understanding. We are afraid of the subject. We don’t understand yet we don’t even dare to take the first step to try and understand and so, we would stay in that same spot forever.

Some people might need a little push so that they allow themselves to open their eyes and hearts to understand or at least be aware that there are people with different needs in this world. 

The Tempo of Education

You are now a lecturer with Dika. How’s that different for you compared to teaching young children?

Of course, it’s very different. I set totally different expectations with college students. I want them to get ready for the challenges they’ll face upon graduation. I want them to have the passion if they want to become an educator.

So, instead of teaching the contents and knowledge, I want to instill the right attitude and mindset in these students. The theories and skills-based knowledge for any industry in fact, of course, is a must to learn. But, what I want them to take away from their college education is the desire and passion for what they want to be. At the end of the day, it’s more than just grades, exams, and assignments, but it’s whether they have achieved what they set out to or what they dreamed of becoming. 


Venus Lim with her students during Drama Night. One of the classes focuses on expressing creativity and their hidden artistic side that would be beneficial for both the young children learning and for the students to discover more about themselves.  

During their learning journey here, it is also their time of finding out if this is their path, whether this is their story. And it’s okay if some may need more time, we really need to take time to find and know ourselves. Build that principle in yourself, so that whatever you do out there, you are not easily influenced or swayed by challenges, you will have the heart to face them. 

What impact would you want to give to your students?

I want them to have a sense of achievement. I think that would be a good motivation for anybody. Whatever they want to do, wherever they want to go. I always do this with my class, I would ask them “For these past two years, what milestones have you achieved?” “Were you happy with it?” “Do you feel proud of those milestones?” 

I want them to always be hungry for more. Hungry and curious for new knowledge, new skills, new journey, whatever it is, always seeking out to learn something.

Why Dika College? What made you choose us?

After I came back from the US and got my Post-Grad Diploma, I wanted to try something new. [laughs] That’s just me I suppose.

But, instead of me saying I chose Dika, I would say Dika chose me. Why I say that is because I sent out so many resumes, but Dika was the only one who called me in. The first module that I taught in Dika, was Music and Movement, in 2013. And it continued from then on. I was actually actively doing part-time lecturing and teaching young children and young adults at the same time. 

And soon, I was ready for DSE subjects and I started off with the most introductory subject and then it progressed from there, one by one. Then for a few years, I was just doing part-time until I agreed to be a contract lecturer, then full-time, then programme coordinator. And here we are.


Venus Lim and few more were awarded the Certificate of Awesomeness during Homecoming Night in 2018

It has been a long journey yet fulfilling. The students are another factor in me staying on with Dika. They motivate and challenge me every time, and I absolutely love it.

A Symphony of Togetherness

You’re seen as an advocate for inclusive education. Would you want to share more on this?

It’s a fundamental human right. Just that we brand it as such when it should have been there in the first place. Am I an advocate? [laughs] I’m just a regular person who wants something for everyone. It goes beyond just equal chance, equal education, it’s our dignity as human beings. It’s about acceptance and regardless of whether it’s in the act or the laws, as a person, it’s just basic fundamental rights. 

People know about special needs. But what we lack is the understanding part. Hence, a lot of sharing sessions are much needed, we need to spread the word. There’s no us and them. It’s we, it’s all of us. But we (Malaysia) are far. I don’t think we are anywhere near to the ideal situation. There’s no sense of belonging for them. We are living in a community but we are so apart. 

And our children need to learn that. The good and the bad. We need to start talking about it. If we don’t change our mindset, these children will grow moving away from that pathway. It will be a very sad sight to witness for our next generation. 

So what I hope is that, when I train these educators, they will then teach these young children good values so that they will grow to be an adult who has more empathy, understanding, more accepting towards differences.

A country’s hope and future are solely dependent on our young children because they are going to grow up to be the next generation to lead the country. 

“It’s a fundamental human right…It goes beyond just equal chance, equal education, it’s our dignity as human beings. It’s about acceptance and regardless of whether it’s in the act or the laws, as a person, it’s just basic fundamental rights.”

What advice would you give to those who are interested in this industry?

You need to first believe in yourself and believe in others as well. You need that trust. Somehow and lately, people have fear in trusting people. With this fear in place, you have restricted or limited yourself to do the things you believe in and the things you want to do. 

Of course, you will face challenges and you will encounter mistakes, but that makes it a learning process. Your life will be meaningless if you don’t learn anything. 

Another piece of advice is don’t get comfortable. Don’t settle with your current achievements. Because, when you’re comfortable, you stop thinking about more, you have no more drive, no motivation to do more. Keep challenging yourself. 

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