SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2003 – Speech by Mr Koh Nai Teck

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister of Education and Second Minister for Defence

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls


1. A very good afternoon to all of you. On behalf of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), may I extend a very warm welcome to you to this Awards Presentation Ceremony.

2. We believe that a sound education is the surest way to help the students realize their fullest potential and secure promising employment later. To support this, we have, since 1985, been providing students with disabilities and students with disabled parents from low-income families with financial awards to help meet educational expenses. We believe that the financial assistance will provide a more level playing field to this group of students with special needs.

3. Over the years, the Education Programme has expanded to include other features besides financial aid. This includes tuition for the students, counseling support, vacation enrichment programmes and donation of refurbished PCs to those who cannot afford one. 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 degree of disability of the students and recommend the appropriate devices for the students as well as provide the training to them on the use of the devices.

4. SPD is also participating in an R & D project to test a new AT software which could benefit students with muscular dystrophy. This is a collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic with support from InfoComm Development Authority and the Singapore Science Centre. It involves the use of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) to input data into computers, which will help people with muscular dystrophy to access the computers more easily. You will get to see the actual demonstration by our students in the Computer Laboratory later on.

5. All these would not have been possible without the support of our many partners and supporters. On behalf of SPD, I would like to record my appreciation to the following organisations who have contributed significantly to our Education Programme:

a) First of all, we thank Caltex Singapore for providing the financial support to the Education Programme through the Caltex Golfers With Heart 2003. A series of activities was organised to raise funds for the Education Programme including the charity concert by the world -renowned string quartet, Bond last Tuesday. Thank you too for inviting our students to the concert which they absolutely enjoyed.

b) We also thank StarHub for the funds pledged to purchase assistive technology devices and software for demonstration, training and loan to people with disabilities.

c) Next, we would like to express our gratitude to Cerebos Pacific for organizing the Brands’ Enriching Lives Campaign in October last year to raise funds for the Education Programme.

d) And to the National Council of Social Service, InfoComm Development Authority, the Singapore Science Centre and Singapore Polytechnic, we thank you for funding and promoting Assistive Technology to help physically disabled students cope with their disabilities.

6. We would also like to applaud the principals and teachers of our students for playing a crucial part in helping to mould and nurture our students to what they can achieve today.

7. My deepest appreciation also goes to Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, who in spite of his busy schedule took time off today to grace this ceremony.

8. Last, but not least, I congratulate our award recipients and urge them to continue to strive for the best in their studies. I share the joy of your parents in seeing you overcoming the challenge of disability to succeed in your studies. Well done and keep up the good work!

9. I wish you all a pleasant afternoon. Thank you.