SPD Education Programme 2009 – Speech by Ms Chia Yong Yong

Theme: Breaking Barriers, Unlocking Potentials

Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee
Minister of State for Defence
Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC


Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Boys and girls

Good morning,


On behalf of SPD, I would like to thank our Guest-of-Honour, Associate Professor Koo for attending the ceremony this morning despite his busy schedule. Prof Koo has officiated at various events of SPD over the years. We thank him for his continued support to SPD.

January is a special month of the year. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed – and to look forward and plan for the year ahead.


Since its inception in 1985, the SPD Education Programme has been providing financial awards to full-time students with physical disabilities and students who have parents with physical disabilities in mainstream schools. In 1985, 25 students were awarded a total of $9,100 for their studies. This year, we are supporting over 150 students with a total amount of $165,200.

Over the past two decades, SPD has helped, financially, students with physical disabilities and students with physically disabled parents to pursue their education. With the bursaries and hence fewer economic burdens, our recipients can focus on setting their academic goals and working hard to achieve them.

The SPD Education Programme has, over the years, evolved to meet the changing educational and developmental needs of our students in the face of an increasingly demanding curriculum in mainstream schools. The SPD Education Programme is more than just a provider of financial awards – it is a holistic and structured programme with a range of services such as centre-based and on-site therapy services, social work support and enrichment programmes.

In this economic downturn, more needy persons with physical disabilities may have difficulty affording rehabilitative services and programmes in the community. I am pleased to announce that the SPD Education Programme is launching a new scheme to further help the bursary recipients. Under this new scheme, recipients with physical disabilities and physically disabled parents of the recipients will receive complimentary services at SPD, such as therapy, assessment and consultation in assistive technology, and enrichment programmes, up to a value of $300 for one year.

Despite the challenging economic climate, SPD remains committed to investing in the education needs of our students. Through our bursary awards and the new scheme, we want to send a message to our recipients and their families that their needs are not forgotten. The presence of our sponsors and supporters is also an affirmation that we share the same belief. We will continue to be your partner in supporting your development into balanced individuals.


Let me now say a few words about a survey we conducted in July last year to measure the participation level of Primary and Secondary students with physical disabilities in mainstream schools.

The survey revealed several findings. Let me highlight one: in relation to PE lessons. The participation rate for PE lessons was the lowest at 46% compared to other class lessons. This may not be surprising since physical dexterity is lacking, but it is not satisfactory. To ensure a truly inclusive educational experience for students with physical disabilities, it is imperative that support be given to the schools and students to ensure, as far as possible, equal participation in all aspects of school activities, PE included.

Hence in the coming year, we hope to partner with the Singapore Disability Sports Council to train PE teachers on modifying PE lessons to cater to the needs of students with physical disabilities. Colleen F. Tomko, an author, said, “Inclusion is part of a much larger picture than just placement in the regular class within school. It is being included in life and participating using one’s abilities in day to day activities as members of the community.” SPD will strive to break the barriers – physical, mental and social barriers – so that students with physical disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of the educational curriculum.


We are also using this platform to launch the Disability Resource Handbook. Mainstream teachers can refer to this Handbook for ways to include students with physical disabilities in their schools. This resource handbook is an amalgamation of the knowledge and skills of SPD’s professional staff who had worked extensively with schools and students with physical disabilities in integration support services. It seeks to empower educators to better support students with physical disabilities in mainstream schools.

I want to record our thanks to WBL Corporation Limited (WEARNES) and South East Community Development Council for their sponsorship of the Disability Resource Handbook.


The past year saw the graduation of three of our Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation-SPD scholars. Starting with Jan Lee Jun Hui – while he was still an undergraduate, he was offered a job at KPMG, one of the big four auditing firms, in December 2007. In July 2008, Jan commenced work at KPMG as an auditor (graduate associate). Another scholar is Liew Chong Heng. He is interning as an internal auditor with City Developments Limited. Our third scholar, Yeo Chiew Yong, a fourth year student at Nanyang Technological University (School of Materials Science and Engineering) graduated in August 2008 and was awarded a scholarship by Singapore-MIT Alliance to pursue his PhD in Advanced Materials for Micro-and-Nano Systems (AMM&NS) in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.

This year we continue to award Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation-SPD scholarships to 2 recipients – Pearl Lee and Ye Yaosheng. Both have achieved commendable grades in their respective disciplines.

We want to say that the achievements of our scholars are the result of their hard work and the unwavering support from their families and of course, our sponsor – Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation. Through your support and commitment, our scholars have demonstrated that their potentials can be unlocked.


To our sponsors, Caltex, NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore Exchange (for organising the Bull Charge 2008) as well as the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation, your support goes a long way in helping our students with physical and financial challenges pursue their academic aspirations without financial worries, and even more so in times of economic uncertainties.

I would also like to congratulate our students and scholars here today for your academic achievements. You have braved and overcome the challenges of the past year, and we wish you every success as you embark on yet another academic year ahead.


May this year reflect a more inclusive society as the community opens the doors to support students with physical disabilities as they pursue their dreams and carve out a bright future for themselves. I wish everyone here a fulfilling and successful year!