Children with disabilities should attend mainstream schools where possible, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) is exploring ways to help them learn better in such environments.
This could be through the use of infocommunication technology, such as a tablet computer, which can help less articulate children communicate through typing and drawing, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah said yesterday.
"But that also requires a certain kind of specialised pedagogy, and you need the right kind of teachers with the right kind of training to really be able to maximise the use of that. But we are exploring that," she said, addressing more than 800 parents at a dialogue at Zhangde Primary School in Tiong Bahru.
Responding to a question on how MOE is helping children with special needs, she said that while some of them may have to attend special schools, the ministry's general approach is to try to place most in mainstream ones.
This would help them adapt better to life outside school when they graduate, she said.
Ms Indranee added that there are teacher assistants to help teachers with pupils who have learning disabilities, among other measures.
Yesterday's dialogue was held alongside an Edusave Awards Presentation Ceremony organised by the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Citizens Consultative Committee, which saw more than 470 primary school pupils receiving awards.
Another participant at the dialogue suggested having more open houses for primary schools.
Ms Indranee, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, agreed that parents should visit a school and get a sense of whether the environment would be suitable for their children, and said she would ask MOE to look into more platforms to publicise open houses or other ways parents could obtain more information.
Concluding her address, Ms Indranee pointed out that it was no longer possible to predict the economy, or future jobs and skills needed.
With so many cars computerised now, mechanics need to be well versed in electronics and computer diagnostics, she said, giving one example. And in time, the repair work might also be done by robots, so the mechanic would have to understand robotics, she suggested.
"This is likely to happen to many other jobs... How to prepare your kids? We can't say this is the textbook and we know in 10 years this is exactly what we need to do," she said.
"The only thing we can do for your kids is to make sure they can think, make sure they have the right character, make sure they know how to find the answers if they need them, and make sure they have the right attitude and outlook, so that when things come and change, they are not fazed and disconcerted but they say 'Okay, I can overcome this challenge'."
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