LG (NS) Lim Chuan Poh, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Education
Mr Yong Lum Sung, Chief Operating Officer of StarHub
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls
1. A very good afternoon and welcome to the official opening of the StarHub-SPD Learning and Development Centre.
2. I would like to begin by thanking StarHub for its very generous contribution and for making this Centre possible. In fact, StarHub’s partnership with SPD dated way back to 2002 when it provided a seed donation to kick start the SPD Computer Lab with 13 PCs and $46,000 to buy special assistive technology hardware and software to enable the disabled to access the PCs.
3. Today, I am delighted to stand here and address all of you, once again made possible through the continued generosity of StarHub. StarHub has donated $250,000 from its IDD Charity Fund towards the setting up of the StarHub-SPD Learning and Development Centre.
4. The Learning and Development Centre is a core component of the SPD Education Programme. This Programme started out in 1985 providing mainly financial assistance to physically disabled students and students with physically disabled parents studying in mainstream schools. However, we recognized that although this could help to lessen the financial burden at home, it was inadequate in fully nurturing the child’s potential.
5. Over the years, we have introduced improvements to the Programme. In 2002, we began conducting enrichment courses and organizing activities during the school holidays for students under the Programme. These, however, were ad hoc and very much dependent on availability of resources.
6. Today, thanks to StarHub, we are proud to be able to launch the Learning and Development Centre which will look into the physical, intellectual and psycho-social development of these students on a more structured basis. The Centre will provide a holistic approach to our children’s development that looks beyond the classroom and grades.
7. We recognize that often children with physical disabilities may have lesser learning opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts due to accessibility issues, financial concerns and even a lack of socializing opportunities. The new Centre aims to level the playing field for these students. It will provide greater opportunities for their development by offering quality enrichment programmes and activities outside the classroom. Courses in the pipeline include creative workshops, speech and drama classes, specially tailored camps and field trips, and sporting activities, just to name a few.
8. Workshops at the Centre will be mainly interactive and hands-on to engage the students in active participation. To fully meet the needs of our students, we will also have a Programme Development Officer to coordinate the programmes and assess the students on their learning needs.
9. Subsidies are available for those who need financial assistance. No disabled child will be denied participation in any of the courses due to financial concerns.
10. The social workers here tell me the students truly enjoy the activities and workshops SPD organizes. It is heartening to hear of them coming back during the school holidays, clamoring for more. We want the Centre to be a natural second home of learning and socializing for these students where they can grow in, and we do this by continually improving the quality of our programmes with the support of our sponsors and partners.
11. We have already made plans with established training centres and will have more professional trainers conducting the programmes and workshops. For a start, we have a director of an established financial training company now conducting the money management workshop running concurrently on the fourth floor for our students.
12. As part of our vision of integration, the Centre will also partner schools and teachers to help them better understand the needs of students with physical disabilities. For instance, we have started conducting workshops that provide tips to teachers in modifying PE lessons to include children with physical disabilities. With a little effort and awareness, PE lessons can be modified to include them. More of such workshops will be held that will provide assistance in modification of other aspects for greater integration in schools.
13. It is also important to focus on the caregiver and families of the disabled student. Caregiver support and training workshops will also be provided at the Centre to help them better understand the needs of their child as well as to assist them in maximizing their child’s potential.
14. SPD is also in the position to provide support services for the students who come to the Centre. Our Specialized Assistive Technology Centre provides AT consultations to recommend the appropriate AT devices that can be used to aid the students at school. Likewise, our Paediatric Rehabilitation services are available for those who may need rehabilitation.
15. SPD is committed to helping these students grow in all aspects of their lives and we are honoured to have StarHub as a partner in making a difference to the lives of these children. With StarHub’s support and that of the Ministry of Education, schools, teachers and caregivers, we will continue to come up with creative and innovative programmes that will enrich the learning experiences of our children.
16. We would also like to acknowledge the various assistance and support MOE has extended to help students with disabilities integrate in mainstream schools. All these efforts and support will go a long way in ensuring that every physically disabled child can also develop his or her human potential to the fullest.
17. Finally, my appreciation also goes to our Guest-of-Honour, General Lim Chuan Poh, for gracing our event today. Thank you and I wish you all a pleasant weekend.