Ishk Tolaram Foundation pledges $175,000 to help children with dyslexia

Dyslexia Association of Singapore president Eric Lee (left) and Ishk Tolaram Foundation chairman Mohan Vaswani with the cheque. PHOTO: DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Two of Madam Zaida Hashim's four children have been diagnosed with dyslexia, and her youngest child, who is only five years old, was experiencing mild speech delay.

However, programmes provided by Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) have aided them in their learning journey.

On Thursday (Nov 11), the association received $175,000 in funding from one of its supporters, the Ishk Tolaram Foundation, at a cheque presentation event in Rex Learning Centre in Bukit Timah.

The foundation, based in Singapore, develops and supports programmes that provide access to quality education, healthcare and skills training to underprivileged individuals in Indonesia, Nigeria and Singapore.

Madam Zaida's dyslexic nine-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son have both been attending DAS' Main Literacy Programme since 2019. The programme, which takes place twice a week, provides a comprehensive curriculum that supports primary and secondary school students with dyslexia facing literacy challenges. MLP students receive separate funding from the Ministry of Education.

Upon seeing improvement in her daughter and son, Madam Zaida, 45, enrolled her youngest child in the Preschool Early Literacy Programme (Pelp), which provides early intervention for pre-schoolers with literacy weaknesses or who are at risk of dyslexia. He is also one of the beneficiaries of the Ishk Tolaram funding.

Her five-year-old son is too young to be diagnosed, as children can be diagnosed from only around age six.

Under Pelp, an educational therapist and parents work together to set goals in speech and language therapy classes based on an individual's literacy ability.

Since 2006, Pelp has supported the educational development of over 2,000 pre-schoolers who are at risk of dyslexia and other learning difficulties. DAS offers this programme at 12 of its 14 learning centres here.

"He is able to speak in sentences and his speech is clearer now," said Madam Zaida, who has noticed improvement in her youngest son.

It is children like Madam Zaida's that the Ishk Tolaram Foundation seeks to help. The foundation first supported the DAS in 2019, when it pledged $243,000 for the academic years 2019 and 2020.

Ms Sandhya Aswani, the foundation's programme director for Singapore, said the organisation believed in the importance of building strong foundations in the early childhood years to give all children an equal start in their learning journeys.

She said: "Through this partnership, we hope to give more children access to early intervention, the right resources and support to realise their full potential."

Mr Lee Siang, the chief executive of DAS, thanked the foundation for its funding. He said the money would help to widen the association's capacity to support more pre-schoolers who are struggling with basic literacy.

He added: "The support will make a big difference in the lives of many young learners who need specialised resources and teaching to learn effectively."

Parents who suspect their children have dyslexia may register for a screening test with DAS by calling 6444- 5700 on weekdays between 9am and 5.30pm.

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