SINGAPORE: Mayflower Primary School (MFPS) will be the first mainstream primary school in Singapore designated for children with hearing loss who sign, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Saturday (Sep 16).
With up to seven students enrolled to enter the Primary 1 cohort starting January next year, this initiative will allow students with hearing loss who sign to be fully integrated with their hearing peers, both academically and socially.
Currently, students with moderate to profound hearing loss who sign attend special education schools.
At MFPS, the students learn with their hearing peers for most subjects, including English, Math and Physical Education (PE). They will be taught separately when learning their mother tongue. Each class will be attended to by a specialised teacher, proficient in sign language, alongside the subject's teacher.
While sign language will be the teaching medium for those with hearing loss, MFPS principal Ms Lim-Chua Siow Ling assured that this would not be a distraction for other pupils.
"I think it all boils down to educating them (the kids) from young," she said. "I'm quite confident that our children will embrace this group of hearing loss students, because character education has always been a key focus of Mayflower Primary. Our school motto has always been 'service before self'."
An education interpreter will also oversee classes in non-core subjects such as arts and PE. The specialised teachers and education interpreter, who are deployed from the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf), will provide the necessary educational support for these group of students.
To ensure access and safety, school-wide visual infrastructural provisions will be made to announcement systems, fire alarms and door bells.
By following regular school hours and taking part in school programmes and activities such as co-curricular activities (CCAs) and camps, this new educational model hopes to "bring benefits to both students with and without hearing loss", said Senior Minister of State for Education Dr Janil Puthucheary at the launch of the International Week of the Deaf.
Speaking at SADeaf, Dr Puthucheary said he hoped that hearing students can "build empathy, acceptance and respect for differences and diversity as they interact with those with hearing loss".
"Mayflower Primary School will provide a conducive learning environment where students with hearing loss can build confidence and social skills as they integrate and interact with their hearing peers," added Dr Puthucheary.
"I'm quite confident that our children will embrace this group of hearing loss students, because character education has always been a key focus of MFPS," said
Dr Puthucheary explained that MFPS was selected due to its central location in Ang Mo Kio, and its proximity to Beatty Secondary School - the current mainstream designated school for secondary-aged students with hearing loss who sign.
"Together, the schools will form a nexus of support and opportunity for students to interact and share joint activities," said Dr Puthucheary.
President Halimah Yacob was the guest-of-honour at the event, where she met with representatives from SADeaf and also recipients of awards such as NCSS Volunteer Long Service Award and Outstanding Deaf Achiever Award.