S$3.6m Dyslexia Programme for Primary School Students

S$3.6m Dyslexia Programme for Primary School Students

Thursday, 08 March 2012

Media Type
TODAY online

SINGAPORE - The Education Ministry (MOE) is beefing up the special education sector to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of special education (SPED).

The ministry is piloting a S$3.6 million school-based dyslexia programme in 20 primary schools.

The programme is for Primary 3 students who have been identified to have dyslexia by the end of Primary 2.

The objective is to help these students read at the same level as their peers by the end of Primary 4.

If the pilot is successful, MOE will consider expanding the programme in phases to other schools.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sim Ann also unveiled in Parliament today, plans to expand training opportunities for SPED teachers and streamlining the application process for SPED schools.

She added that the application process for SPED schools will be streamlined by October so that parents need not make multiple applications to different SPED schools.

A newly set up Multi-Agency Advisory Panel, comprising specialists and professionals from government agencies and SPED schools, will develop a standard application process for all 20 SPED schools.

It will facilitate admission for children with less straightforward learning profiles into the appropriate SPED school.

The ministry is also raising the household income ceiling of the SPED Financial Assistance Scheme from S$1,500 to S$2,500.

It will also use a per capita income of S$625 as a parallel assessment criterion.

This is expected to benefit about 1,500 SPED students, up from 600 previously.

The ministry will also extend the annual top-up grants to SPED schools for the next three years, so that they have the resources to provide additional assistance, such as transport subsidies, to needy students.

In terms of raising the quality of education in SPED schools, Ms Sim said the ministry is exploring the possibility of working with overseas partners to offer SPED undergraduate degree programmes for those training to be SPED teachers.

Currently, teachers training to join SPED schools have to undergo a one-year diploma or post-graduate diploma course at the National Institute of Education (NIE). MOE also offers scholarships to SPED teachers to pursue Masters degrees at both and overseas universities.

Ms Sim also acknowledged that the ministry needs to attract and retain able staff so that expertise and knowledge can be continually built up.

She said MOE will support the National Council of Social Services and voluntary welfare organisations in reviewing salaries in SPED schools.

Ms Sim added that the ministry is also strengthening curriculum development in SPED schools. It is doing so through the draft Curriculum Framework for SPED Schools launched at the SPED Conference last November.

MOE is working towards building an inclusive society by integrating children with special needs into society.

Ms Sim said it will do so by expanding satellite partnerships with mainstream schools.

For example, students from MacPherson Primary School and hearing-impaired students learn alongside one another in academic and non-academic activities.

In addition, Ms Sim said the ministry will do more to prepare SPED students for future employment, in line with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's announcement to extend the Special Employment Credit for SPED graduates.

She said the ministry will place greater emphasis on vocational pathways that lead to nationally recognised certification for students who can access open employment 

Source: TODAY online, mediacorp