60 more schools to have dyslexia programme

60 more schools to have dyslexia programme
Allied educator Tutek Alauyah teaching Tampines Primary pupils (from left) Safin Chia, Iryan Shah and Elnisha Durra under the School-based Dyslexia Remediation Programme. The total number of schools running the programme will rise to 121, with the addition of 60 more schools.

Ten-year-old Safin Chia used to struggle with spelling simple words such as "yes" or "she".

The Tampines Primary School pupil was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was eight.

His mother, sole proprietor Wong Siu Yin, said the boy's problems with reading, spelling and speech made him frustrated in class.

"He could not express himself well, so he just gave up," said the 47-year-old.

That changed after Safin started attending the School- based Dyslexia Remediation Programme, which helps Primary 3 and 4 pupils with reading difficulties catch up with their peers through specially designed extra-curricular classes.

Ms Wong said: "Now he can pronounce so well, read longer words and, through speech, he has gained confidence. I'm amazed and happy."

Results from the programme's 2012 pilot showed that most pupils had gained more than 21/2 years in reading age.

For instance, a Primary 3 pupil with the average reading ability of a seven-year-old would have improved his skills to the same level as the rest of his cohort.

Encouraged by the results, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will expand the scheme to 60 more schools this year.

This brings the total number of schools with the programme to 121, or two-thirds of all primary schools here.

It will be made available to all primary schools here next year.

An additional 290 pupils are expected to benefit from this year's expansion, on top of the 1,510 who have already gone through the programme.

Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information Sim Ann said: "Over the years, awareness about dyslexia has been increasing and more students are also being put through the diagnostic process."

"Reading forms a very critical foundation for learning. For those of our students who experience persistent difficulties with reading, we want to support them with targeted and effective measures," she said.

The classes are conducted after school by allied educators and English language teachers with specialised training.

They focus on overcoming challenges such as weak memory and difficulty in connecting letters and sounds.

Teachers incorporate sensory methods such as writing the word with a finger in the air and the use of visual props.

Iryan Shah, 10, a classmate of Safin's, said: "Before this class, I did not enjoy school. When I failed my spelling, I never talked to anyone about my results.

"I like this class because it can teach me how to read faster," he said.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on March 4, 2015.
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