- POSTED: 01 Oct 2013 19:17
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the government is looking to expand vocational education to more special education students, and provide more support for their transition from school to work.
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the government is looking to expand vocational education to more special education students, and provide more support for their transition from school to work.
He was speaking at the 10th anniversary celebration of Pathlight, a school for students with autism, on Tuesday.
Joining the celebration, Mr Lee said his government will do more for children with special needs.
"Pathlight reflects our commitment to give hope and opportunity to all Singaporeans. We will help every child to achieve his potential through education. And therefore, this year at the National Day Rally I talked about how we are going to keep paths upwards open for all, through education," said Mr Lee.
Today, 25 per cent of Singapore's 5,000 students in special education or SPED schools are on the vocational track, and graduate with a recognised certificate.
The Education Ministry wants to offer vocational education to more than this group of students, and include everyone who is assessed to be work-capable.
However, with special education students having different needs, different vocational programmes will need to be designed.
A review is ongoing.
Minister of State for Education, Sim Ann, said: "Amongst our students with special education needs, there will be a significant proportion who would be ready to work if given the right training and the right support.
"Over the last few years, the Ministry of Education has been working quite closely with special education schools to identify these students and to ensure they are given the support and training that's needed."
Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre, said: "What the schools can do is to build a good base, and not just vocational skills but the foundation, which is work habits, the emotional management and also making sure their grooming and daily skills are taken care of. That's a good base from where we can build the vocational skills.
Beyond schools, Mr Lee said there is also a need to build a fair and just society that treats everyone with dignity, especially those with disabilities.
The Education Ministry plans to do more to develop SPED teachers, by reaching out to more teachers with its Masters in Special Education scholarship.
There are also ongoing efforts to twin all 20 SPED schools in Singapore with a mainstream school to promote interactions amongst students.
Currently, eight SPED schools have satellite programmes with mainstream schools.