New award for students with special needs

Mr Grishm Chandru Mirpuri, Ms Fu Ai-Lin Nicole and Mr Muhammad Solehan Bin Hamid at the Special Awards at Singapore University of Technology and Design on Aug 17, 2017. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

A new award was introduced this year to recognise the achievements of students with special needs.

The Lee Kuan Yew Exemplary Student Award notes the strides made by students in 20 government-funded special education schools in their journey to becoming exemplary role models.

These include academic success and sporting achievements, such as taking part in the Asean Para Games, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur next month.

Nicole Fu, who was one of the 25 winners of the award yesterday, is among those heading to the Games. The 16-year-old was diagnosed with mild intellectual disability with autism spectrum disorder.

Her mother Ferin Fu said: "As parents, we are very proud of her. It has not been an easy journey and we celebrate every milestone made.

"She has been training very hard for the Games and some of us would be heading over to support her."

Another recipient Grishm Chandru Mirpuri, 10, who has a visual disability, went on to excel in the performing arts and sang at this year's National Day Parade.

In his opening address, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kungnoted the "inclusion of children with moderate to severe special education needs under the compulsory education framework with effect from the 2019 Primary One cohort".

The event also saw the introduction of the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart Nation Award (LHL-IDM). It recognises polytechnic students in the area of interactive digital media.

Mr Lim Kok Fong from Nanyang Polytechnic, one of the LHL-IDM award recipients, developed an app, CodeBlue Response, which lets hospital staff instantly alert their CodeBlue team in emergencies. Currently, staff have to locate emergency buttons to activate the team.

Mr Lim, 20, said: "I have always been passionate about IT since young and I'm very surprised to receive this." He hopes to pursue computer science or information systems in a local university.

The Lee Kuan Yew Award for All-Round Excellence was also extended to primary school pupils. It was previously awarded only to secondary school students.

The various awards were funded by personal donations from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Correction note: In our earlier story, we said Nicole Fu was one of the three winners of the Lee Kuan Yew Exemplary Student Award. This is incorrect. She was one of the the 25 winners of the award. We are sorry for the error.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2017, with the headline New award for students with special needs. Subscribe