Mr See Cher, President, Society for the Physically Disabled
Ms Chia Yong Yong, Chairperson, SPD Bursary
SPD Board of Management
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls
1. It is my great pleasure to be here today at the Society for the Physically Disabled Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2005. I join the parents, family members and friends, and the children here today, in showing appreciation to the organizers, the individual and corporate sponsors and donors who have made this event possible year on year since 1985. I also want to congratulate the 252 students receiving the education awards for their outstanding achievements.
THE ROLE OF STAKEHOLDERS IN AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY
2. As our nation develops, we should step up our collective efforts to help more Singaporeans achieve their full potential. We must continue to create opportunities so that improvements in living standards that our parents achieved can also be realised by our children. But as we have already attained the status of a developed country with a high standard of basic healthcare, housing provision and educational opportunities, all of us recognised that further improvements must also focus on the softer aspects in life and will require the effort of many groups and not that of the Government alone. I therefore applaud the efforts of organizations like The Society for the Physically Disabled, or SPD, in helping disadvantaged students .
3. The SPD Education Programme started by giving out grants to students with physical disabilities who were studying in mainstream schools. I understand the programme also admits students whose parents are physically disabled. From a modest group of 20 to 30 students when it first began in 1985, the Programme now benefits over 200 students each year.
4. I am heartened to note the various ways the SPD programme has expanded over the years. It now provides an array of services which include tuition support, career guidance, counselling, enrichment programmes and consultation and assessment in Assistive Technology as well as, provides students with therapy services at SPD’s Rehabilitation Centre.
5. All these form a support framework that complements the work of the Ministry of Education in boosting the facilities and resources to help children with special needs in mainstream schools. MOE will train selected teachers to meet the needs of these special students. In tandem, SPD is also taking an active role in engaging special trainers to provide enrichment courses for participants in the SPD Education programme. These efforts of many helping hands will benefit those with disabilities and enable some to achieve better educational outcomes. It will also facilitate their inclusion into activities of mainstream society.
ROLE MODELS OF COURAGE, INITIATIVE AND DRIVE
6. I am also happy to note that corporate sponsors are also doing their part in supporting these efforts. A recent addition of a Scholarship scheme extends the support given to students with physical disabilities studying in local universities. Three undergraduate students received the SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship when it was inaugurated last year. The Scholarship, apart from giving practical support, also raises the profiles of these three outstanding individuals amongst the non-disabled. I understand that they had not only excelled in their academic pursuits to warrant the accolade, but continue to serve and give back their time by mentoring those younger than themselves. Their achievements despite the constant physical challenges they face are an inspiration to us all. Together with the bursary recipients, may I urge you to continue being role models of courage, initiative and drive for your peers.
7. I also want to remember and commend the parents and teachers who, in their quiet and unspoken ways, help in the nurturing of every child here today. I am aware of the daily effort and sacrifices required in your labour of love.
8. Every society will have its unfortunate and marginalised. In a fast-paced society with competing wants, their needs can be forgotten
or overlooked. However Singaporeans have shown repeatedly that we possess a warm and generous spirit. This was clearly manifested in the recent outpouring of donations in gifts and charitable acts after the Tsunami crisis.
9. With this generous giving from many helping hands, we can together help more Singaporeans like the disabled feel accepted, realise their dreams and call this place home.