SINGAPORE - Starting next year (2018), pupils at a mainstream primary school will have deaf classmates using sign language and learning alongside them.
Mayflower Primary School in Ang Mo Kio will take in up to seven pupils with hearing loss in its Primary 1 cohort next year.
The school is the first designated primary school to take in pupils who have moderate to profound hearing loss. Currently these students go to Lighthouse School or Canossian School, which are special education schools.
Senior Minister of State for Education, Dr Janil Puthucheary, speaking at the launch of the International Week of the Deaf on Saturday, said that Mayflower Primary was chosen for its central location, and it is near Beatty Secondary in Toa Payoh, which also caters to deaf students who use sign language.
He added that this arrangement will allow for more opportunities for both schools to share resources and activities over time.
"It is my hope that this new educational model will bring benefits to both students with and without hearing loss," he said.
"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, and where hearing students can build empathy, acceptance and respect for differences and diversity as they interact with their peers with hearing loss."
He was speaking at the Mountbatten premises of the Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf)for the launch of the International Week of the Deaf, where the guest of honour was President Halimah Yacob.
In a press release on Saturday (Sept 16), the Ministry of Education said that having deaf pupils study in a mainstream primary school "will provide the student population with a greater sense of community, with more opportunities for mutual communication through signing, social interactions and peer support".
Eventually, Mayflower Primary will take in 40 to 50 deaf pupils across the different levels.
The ministry said that SADeaf will continue to play a key role in training and providing teachers and support staff.
At Mayflower Primary, sign language will be used to support instruction for pupils with hearing loss. Two specialised teachers from SADeaf will co-teach with the mainstream teacher for core subjects - English, mathematics and science.
An educational sign interpreter will support non-core subjects such as physical education, art and music.