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Singapore Budget 2014: More support for students with special needs and disabilities

A Primary 4 pupil at Bukit Panjang Primary School reading aloud in class, after being on a support programme for pupils with dyslexia. The Ministry of Education will extend help for pupils with dyslexia to another 20 primary schools this year, b
A Primary 4 pupil at Bukit Panjang Primary School reading aloud in class, after being on a support programme for pupils with dyslexia. The Ministry of Education will extend help for pupils with dyslexia to another 20 primary schools this year, bringing the total number of schools with the school-based dyslexia programme to 62. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Ministry of Education will extend help for pupils with dyslexia to another 20 primary schools this year, bringing the total number of schools with the school-based dyslexia programme to 62.

The programme, which started in 2012, now supports 810 pupils in 42 primary schools. With its expansion, another 180 pupils are expected to benefit, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament on Friday.

The programme was introduced for Primary 3 and 4 pupils who struggle in reading, writing and comprehension even after receiving earlier help. They are identified through a screening process that is carried out at the end of Primary 2.

Those with dyslexia have difficulties with reading, spelling and comprehension. Flash cards are used during the programme to show words broken down into their vowel and consonant sounds, to help pupils connect the sound and spelling of words.

Mr Heng, speaking at the budget debate for his ministry, also said there will be more help for students with disabilities and special needs in polytechnics, Institute of Technical Education (ITE), universities, and arts institutions. "Each year, about 1 per cent of our students who enter the ITE, polytechnics or publicly-funded universities have some form of special education needs," he said. "We must do more to support our children, so that they may learn that needs do not equal limits, and so that we can bring out their very best."

From this year, these institutions will each have an office on campus to provide one-stop support for such students. He added that a new special education needs fund will also be set aside to help bear the cost of assistive technology devices and support services.

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