Good Morning Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Acting Minister for Education,
Mr Koh Poh Tiong, Chairman, Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation,
Ms Yan Wong, Caltex International Pte Ltd,
Ladies and gentlemen
1. On behalf of the management and staff of The Society for the Physically Disabled, I welcome all of you to the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony and launch of the SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship.
2. The SPD Education Programme has come a long way since it first began in 1985. We are proud that in the last 19 years, we have distributed over $1 million to help more than 1,450 physically disabled students and students with physically disabled parents in their academic studies.
3. But times have changed. The environment now demands more than just educational excellence – resourcefulness, mental agility, and adaptability – and because of this, the focus of our students today extends beyond mere academic studies. Educational institutions are called upon to go beyond the classrooms to develop students in areas outside of their school textbooks.
4. SPD is aware that students with physical disabilities face greater challenges than the normal students. Hence, SPD has in the last few years introduced new services within the Programme to help the students to meet the challenges. Today, the SPD Education Programme boasts a range of services providing holistic care for its students.
ENHANCED SERVICES FOR THE PUPILS
5. Social workers provide counseling to the students to ensure that they can grow to be well-adjusted individuals. They also work closely with them to nurture and enhance as well as monitor and support them in order to arrest impending problems early in the onset.
6. Recognising the importance of the family and school in influencing young lives, our social workers have begun assisting parents and families facing difficulties coping with the disabled child. A total of 57 home visits was made in 2003 and 99 of the students received other support besides the conventional financial grant given under the Education Programme.
7. Four schools have been reached and connected to raise the awareness of the needs of the physically disabled students last year. More schools will be contacted this year. SPD will be monitoring the conduct, attendance and progress of the students in their studies with assistance from the schools.
7. Improvements have been made to enhance the Tuition Programme where tutors are assigned to students to help them in their weaker subjects. Last year, students under the Programme showed marked progress in their studies, one of them 10-year-old Lim Qi Mao even achieving the best improved student award in school.
8. In the pipeline is a befriending and mentoring scheme aimed at helping the students increase social skills and self-esteem. Also an online forum for secondary school students where they can exchange ideas and information and form a support network amongst themselves will kick off in June.
9. More recently, camps and enrichment programmes have been conducted during the school holidays that help build self-confidence and develop social skills in the students. Such sessions also allow the students to pick up skills outside of their academic studies. This complements MOE’s thrust to produce well-rounded individuals through the educational system. In 2002, we saw 26 participants in our holiday camp and last year, 46 students participated.
9. In addition, SPD’s Assistive Technology Centre offers consultation and assessment in assistive technology for the students. Training is provided in the use of Assistive Technology devices and this has helped pupils with physical disabilities overcome their physical limitations, and enhance their learning capabilities. Nine students received support in acquiring their own Assistive Technology devices last year.
10. Our focus has now changed to include more than mere financial assistance. We hope that our efforts will help each student find and fulfill their hopes so that he or she can be the best that he can be and achieve his potential to the fullest.
NEW SCHOLARHSIP SCHEME
11. With this in mind, we are also very excited to work with Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation to provide a scholarship programme for physically disabled students. Each year, two physically disabled students who have achieved academic excellence will be awarded $11,000 to help pay their tuition fees at the University as well as books, living expenses and transport. The SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship is given to inspire them to higher levels of educational attainment. SPD will further help by providing career guidance and counseling to the scholars to help them decide on appropriate courses that best suit their interest and needs.
12. All these are only possible with the help of our generous sponsors. I take this opportunity to thank Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation for your kind support and look forward to seeing the Foundation touching more lives of people with physical disabilities. I would also like to express our gratitude to Caltex International Pte Ltd for supporting the SPD Education Programme for the third year.
13. To each student here today, my heartiest congratulations for having done well last year, and we wish you even greater success and fulfillment in the academic year ahead.