Integrated system can be win-win for all students

Straits Times Forum, 26 January 2015 (print edition)

THE Disabled People’s Association (DPA) thanks Mrs Padmini Kesavapany for her comments on mainstreaming children with special needs (“Kids with special needs: Modified curriculum not the answer”; last Thursday).

We recognise that there are not enough allied educators, but the current lack of resources does not mean that an integrated national education system cannot work.

As mentioned in our previous letters (“Help kids with special needs fit into mainstream”; Jan 17, and “Special education schools should be part of national system”; Forum Online, Oct 18, 2014), introducing modified curricula will not add more burden to the mainstream teachers’ workload. These modified curricula could be taught at specialised classes by specialised teachers within mainstream schools.

It must also be noted that the DPA is not saying that it is the duty of mainstream teachers to develop a modified curriculum. This is best left to the Ministry of Education and Special Education teachers who have the expertise and knowledge.

At present, two international schools – Dover Court International and Integrated International – are trying out this curriculum strategy for integration and they seem to be working well.

Through their supportive education programmes, students with special needs are integrated as much as possible into the mainstream schools where they learn and play together with their mainstream peers.

And both schools have specialised classes that cater to those with special needs.

The DPA is not advocating an education system that is “one size fits all”. The DPA works with a diverse group of people with different disabilities, and recognises that no one type of learning would suit them all.

The DPA is confident that an integrated education system can work and will benefit all students with and without special needs.

Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills (Dr)

Executive Director

Disabled People’s Association

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