Don't forget children with mild special education needs

The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) is encouraged by the wide-ranging discussions about key principles of Singapore's education system in recent parliamentary sessions (Move beyond focus on grades to embrace skills: Ong Ye Kung; July 12).

It is gratifying to note that the highest level of resourcing goes towards specialised schools (Parliament: Four specialised schools receive more resources to support special needs students; July 10).

However, it is important to include in the discussions the needs of children with learning differences (including dyslexia) and who have mild special education needs.

The number of such children is much higher than those with moderate to severe special education needs.

Children with learning differences are able to access mainstream curriculum.

But inadequate or delayed identification and intervention can bring about a significant social and economic impact for many of them.

Early identification and intervention can help level the playing field for children with learning differences.

Last year, 52 per cent of students on DAS' main literacy programme supported by the Ministry of Education were from lower-income families and qualified for additional financial assistance.

As dyslexia often runs in the family, this also creates a cycle of unequal access to education and resources.

Children impacted by learning differences therefore suffer from a twofold setback in education.

DAS also works with high-functioning students with dyslexia who are able to manage with their own coping strategies when they are younger but require specialist intervention when they reach upper secondary, junior college and tertiary levels, especially in comprehension and essay writing.

The association agrees with Education Minister Ong Ye Kung that it is better to take the approach of lifting the bottom instead of capping the top.

Lee Siang

Chief Executive Officer

Dyslexia Association of Singapore