IM this article to a friend!

November 26, 2002

Special needs

From: Channel News Asia, Singapore - 26 Nov 2002

By Tan Hui Leng

Years ago, ambassador-at-large Prof Tommy Koh made a promise to a group of hearing-impaired students that he would champion their cause.

These young people had wanted to return to Singapore to find work after their studies at a Washington university.
They eventually went back to the US, disappointed that they could not secure good jobs.

Yesterday, at a children’s forum organised by the Ministry of Community Development and Sports, Prof Koh kept to his pledge.

He questioned why special schools did not have enough resources at their disposal.

“We tend to segregate children with disabilities and send them off to special schools and then don’t fund those schools properly.

(And we) ask the NCSS (National Council of Social Services) to look after them. Why can’t we benchmark the schools to national standards?” Prof Koh asked.

There are now six public schools in Singapore offering primary and secondary school education to 61 visually-impaired students and 466 hearing-impaired students.

Some forum participants also took issue with the Education Ministry (MOE) for indicating on certificates that special examination arrangements were made for disabled candidates.

The job-seeking process is already tough enough for these people, they said.

Responding to the criticisms, MOE’s deputy director of schools (North Zone), Mrs Yu Sing Tong, told Today that a number of challenges needed to be overcome before disabled children can be fully integrated into schools here.

“A major problem is the training of the teachers,” she said. “And then, there is (the problem of) how to distribute such teachers between special schools and public schools.”

The views expressed at yesterday’s forum will be compiled for Singapore’s report to the United Nations (UN) this year.

Singapore acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995.

Copyright © 2002 MediaCorp News Pte Ltd