Singapore Education Ministry to Support Students with Disabilities
On 18 February 2012, the Singaporean Minister for Education Mr. Heng Swee Keat pledged to support students with physical disabilities, stating that this population “‘will have access to quality education, regardless of their physical challenges,’” as reported by Channel News Asia’s 18 February article MOE pledges support to students with disabilities written by Joanne Chan.
According to the article, Minister Heng will reiterate this commitment during his ministry’s budget debate, where Minister Heng states he will speak on how the Southeast Asian nation’s education system “‘will continue to create opportunities for all our students, from every income segment, and how we will provide special assistance for the special schools, and children with learning disabilities in our system.’"
In addition, the Singaporean Ministry of Education seeks to strengthen collaboration with voluntary welfare organizations, such as the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). The closer ties would strengthen support for students with disabilities in schools throughout the country.
Founded in 1985, the SPD education program “aims to help level the playing field for students with disabilities while they pursue their academic studies.” The program offers services including counseling, tuition support, and enrichment courses. 122 students with disabilities and students with physically disabled parents received S$85,000 in bursaries from the SPD this year, according to the above-specified Channel News Asia article.
Minister Heng stated that there are currently 38 primary schools and 30 secondary schools in Singapore that are fully equipped with handicapped facilities, but acknowledges that assisting persons with disabilities must occur “‘at each stage of their life journey - from pre-school, to school or special school, and employment…While financial assistance is important, the real meaning goes beyond that. Ultimately, it is about nurturing the character of our society.’"
The IDPP applauds Minister Heng for his commitment. Through its Master’s of International Affairs in Comparative and International Disability Policy (CIDP) program and other initiatives, the IDPP strives to level the playing field for students with disabilities in higher education across the ASEAN region and around the world, while contributing to the vision of an ASEAN region that is inclusive, barrier-free, and rights-based.