Inclusive Education in Singapore Primary School Classrooms

Project Number
OER 08/09 YLS

Project Duration
October 2009 - September 2013

Status
Completed

Abstract
The proposed study seeks to advance knowledge about inclusive education in Singapore, a largely uncharted area of research. Compared to many countries in the US, UK, and Europe, Singapore’s experience is unique in that there is presently no legislation that mandates inclusive educational practices for special needs children. However, in the past five to six years, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has invested considerable resources toward training teachers and providing infrastructure to integrate special needs children in the regular school system. To date, little research has yet been undertaken to understand what inclusion means in the Singapore context, how our teachers are responding to this initiative, and the extent to which inclusion is meeting the needs of children with special needs. The purpose of the study is to throw light on inclusion as it is currently practiced with a view to uncovering strengths, limitations, and directions for refinement. This research study is aligned with the Special Education Strand in OER’s research emphasis, where one focus area includes “challenges and facilitators of including students with special needs in neighborhood schools and in the local community.” The study also complements MOE’s recent investment in special education and is timely in view of Singapore’s vision of building an inclusive nation that embraces diversity. Special Needs Officers (SNOs) and teachers trained in special needs (TSNs) have been trained and deployed to many schools (136 by mid 2009) to support and integrate children with mild to moderate Dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These initial steps toward inclusion reflect a new and positive climate regarding special needs education, and bring our society one step closer to the Singapore 21 Vision. However, realizing this vision of developing the talents of every individual will require more than rhetoric. It will require a scientific foundation and empirical evidence to justify culturally relevant best practices. A knowledge base is required to promote inclusion of children with special needs. Research will shed light on the features that characterized inclusion in our primary school classrooms. We seek to obtain data on prevailing perspectives toward inclusion and factors that facilitate or hinder efforts at inclusion in the primary school environment. Our focus on inclusion in the primary school setting is reasonable in light of research that consistently indicates the importance of early intervention for at-risk children. In this respect, this study is also consistent with MOE’s goal, as expressed by Minister of Education at the 2008 MOE Work Plan Seminar, to nurture our young for the future.

Research Themes
Children at Risk (Disability/Disorder)

Funding Source
NIE

Related Links
NIE Research Brief Series 13-009: Inclusive Education in Singapore Primary School Classrooms

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