More help for dyslexic pupils in primary school

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will extend help for pupils with dyslexia to another 20 primary schools this year, bringing the total of schools with the scheme to 62, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

The school-based dyslexia programme started in 2012 now supports 810 pupils and will be further extended to another 180 pupils in the 20 new schools.

The programme is for dyslexic Primary 3 and 4 pupils who struggle in reading, writing and comprehension even after receiving help earlier.

They are identified through a screening process at the end of Primary 2.

The number of pupils diagnosed with dyslexia has increased from 1,800 in 2009 to 3,000 currently, which is about 1 per cent of primary school pupils.

An MOE spokesman said this is because of "increased awareness among parents and teachers, and better identification processes".

She added that since 2005, trainee teachers at the National Institute of Education go through training to learn how to cater to students with special needs.

Under the school-based programme, flash cards are used to show words broken down into their vowel and consonant sounds. This helps pupils connect the sounds and spelling of words.

The MOE found that those who had attended the lessons improved in their reading and spelling, and were more confident and positive about learning.

This is true for Gan Eng Seng Primary School pupil Beckham Pang, 11, who used to take three days to learn to spell 15 words, and had trouble reading and recognising words.

After receiving help through the programme, he can now learn to spell the same number of words within 10 minutes, said his mother, Ms Goh Bee Suan, 37, an administrative staff.

From failing English, he now scores over 70 marks in the subject.

"Within a few months, I could see a difference. His vocabulary improved, and he was more confident in speaking and asking questions," said Ms Goh, whose husband is a construction supervisor.

She said: "Last time, he did not like to do his homework because he could not understand all the words, but now he finishes his work."

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