3 special education schools to expand, take in 75 more students per year

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education Janil Puthucheary icing a donut under the watch of students from Rainbow Centre during a donut baking lesson.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Dr Janil joining in on a class activity with students at Rainbow Centre - Yishun Park School.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Dr Janil looking at an artwork-in-progress by 17-year-old Wong Qi Yong at Rainbow Centre - Yishun Park School.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Dr Janil tries his hand at bocce at Rainbow Centre - Yishun Park School.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Three special education schools that offer programmes for children with moderate-to-severe autism spectrum disorder will be expanding to take in 75 more students in total per year.

The expansion, which will start from the second half of this year, aims to cater to the increased demand for such programmes in government-funded special education schools run by voluntary welfare organisations. This is driven by an increase in the reported number of students with the disorder, said the Ministry of Education.

The expansion will be a "big boost" to the number of places offered for children with moderate-to-severe ASD that need special education, Senior Minister of State for Education, and Communication and Information Janil Puthucheary told reporters at Rainbow Centre-Yishun Park School on Wednesday (May 24).

"With the 75 new places that we are going to offer, every Singaporean child who has a need for special education, we can say, 'You have a place.'"

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Dr Janil said there are "a variety of reasons" for the increase in demand for places in special education schools for children with ASD.

"One is that we're getting better at diagnosing this and diagnosing it earlier," he said.

"We're also getting better at persuading families that there's something we can do about this, and we can provide a meaningful educational opportunity for these children."

These government-funded schools, namely Eden School, Awwa School and Rainbow Centre, will each be opening one additional campus.

The schools are run by voluntary welfare organisations Autism Association Singapore, Awwa and Rainbow Centre respectively.

The additional campus for Eden School will be at the site of the former Hong Kah Primary School. The Awwa School will open another campus at the former Bedok West Primary School, while the Rainbow Centre's interim campus will be at the site of the former Si Ling Secondary School.

But before the new campuses are ready, two of the schools will begin operations at another school site. Awwa School will do so from the second half of this year, at Minds Fernvale Gardens School. Meanwhile, pupils enrolled in Minds Fernvale Gardens School will continue to attend classes there.

From 2018, Eden School will operate out of Chong Boon Secondary School, which will be merging with and moving to the current Yio Chu Kang Secondary School campus.