All-Rounder Receives Education Grant Together with 170 Other Physically Disabled Students

Singapore, 25 January 2003 – 17-year-old Jovin Tan Wei Qiang loves to play computer games. He chats on the IRC, surfs the Internet, and spends time emailing to friends. Most of all, Jovin loves to sail.

So great is his passion that he went on to represent Singapore in an international sailing competition held in Canberra in March last year and bagged the first prize. For any other boy around his age, this achievement would already be remarkable. For physically disabled, wheelchair-bound Jovin who found himself pitting his skills among the able-bodied, this is nothing short of spectacular.

This morning, Jovin who has cerebral palsy joined other disabled students in receiving the SPD Education Programme Award for his studies at the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony. This award is an encouragement to the Secondary 5 student to pursue his hope for doing well in his GCE ‘O’ Levels which he will be sitting for at the end of the year.

“I used to be one of the top students in my class. Now that studies are getting tougher, I find it difficult to remain at the top. However, it is one of my goals for the year. And I’m glad to have SPD’s and my family’s support as I prepare for my all-important exams!” says Jovin.

Under the SPD Education Programme, Jovin has also received a refurbished computer in the Society’s PC Reuse Scheme. Aside from this, after undergoing a recent needs assessment exercise, he would be receiving various assistive technology aids that include a special mouse, a special arm rest support and note-taking device that will help him in his studies.

“I have two goals this year – to represent Singapore in a higher division at this year’s sailing competition at Canberra, and to get good results for my ’O’ levels this year. The additional help I’m getting from SPD will be a big help to me in meeting at least one of them!” quipped the avid sailer.

Another recipient of the awards is 12-year-old Philip Loh Wei Zhong who has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a disability that limits his hand function. Apart from a weakness in his arms and a tendency to fall if not careful, Philip is a confident boy whom his teachers describe as diligent and enthusiastic about his schoolwork. He loves to contribute new ideas and participates actively in class discussions, doing well everything assigned to him.

It is no surprise then that he did a marvellous job as co-host to professional MC Susan Ng in his first assignment as Master of Ceremonies at the awards presentation ceremony. The financial award will come in handy to Philip and his family to help pay for some of the educational expenses. On top of this, Philip would also be receiving an assistive technology device – special trackball mouse that would help him to use his computer more efficiently.

“I am grateful to SPD for helping me in my studies in so many ways. I also enjoy the holiday enrichment programmes specially organised for disabled students like me. The last speech and drama workshop was very useful – it helped me in my first MC role. I was a little nervous, but knowing that the staff are behind me helped me along. I’m sure it will be the same when I sit for my PSLE this year!” said Philip.

The programme first started in 1985 helping 22 students. Over the years with the changing environment and changing needs, the Education Progamme has expanded to embrace other services besides financial aid. This includes tuition for the students, counseling support, enrichment programmes during the school holidays for the students and distribution of refurbished PCs to them. On the enhancement of the Programme, Mr Koh Nai Teck, President of SPD said: “More recently, we have started providing consultation and training for students who require assistive technology devices to help them to access computers more efficiently. This will enable them to be more productive in their schoolwork. SPD will assess the students and recommend the appropriate devices for the students as well as provide the training to the students on the use of the devices”.

“Over the last 5 years, the Society has awarded over 900 recipients more than $800,000 under the name SPD-Hope Education Programme Awards. This year’s Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony graced by RAdm (NS) Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence saw $190,950 given to 171 disabled students and students with disabled parents. The SPD Education Programme for 2003 is supported by Caltex Singapore Pte Ltd”.