Penalised due to maths learning disorder

Dr Noel Chia Kok Hwee's letter ("'Normal' tuition harmful for kids with learning disabilities"; last Saturday) struck a chord with me.

My daughter, who will be 19 this year, has been failing mathematics since Primary 2.

She has had many tutors, including those from well-known tuition centres, but has never passed the subject. Her maths scores have affected her overall results and her self-esteem.

When my daughter was in Primary 5, we sent her to a child guidance clinic, where she was assessed to be just weak in maths.

She continued to struggle with the subject in secondary school.

Six years later, we sent her to an educational psychologist, who assessed her to have dyscalculia, or difficulty in learning things related to numbers.

My daughter is a voracious reader who speaks and writes well.

Although she topped her cohort in English, literature and combined humanities in her N levels, she was denied promotion to Secondary 5 to do her O levels just because she had failed maths. She felt disappointed as most of her classmates with less-than-stellar results went on to the next level.

She took her O levels last year as a private candidate and attained three As and a B. She wants to pursue tertiary education but our education system does not cater to students like her.

We approached various polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, but were told that she was required to either have a pass in maths or to have sat the paper.

The opportunity to pursue higher education is limited for students like my daughter. Are children with dyscalculia being penalised and denied opportunities for tertiary education?

There should be more awareness of this condition so that children with this problem can be diagnosed early and special intervention provided, just like for dyslexia. Yap Cheng Siew (Madam)


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.