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Transition to higher education is challenging for students with special educational needs.

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Children with specials needs should also have the right to education.

According to experts, students with special needs such as dyslexia and autism often struggle to adjust to university life. It is not the easiest pathway for children with special educational needs due the low supply of inclusive education that is accommodating students with special needs especially for tertiary levels.

Speaking to The Straits Times, they discussed how students with learning difficulties or learning differences do not always receive the same level of attention as those in primary and secondary schools.

They added that special needs students struggle with skills like time management and prioritisation, which are essential at the tertiary level.

Autistic children have trouble becoming accustomed to the various course structures and modalities of evaluation for each module, according to Ms. Alina Chua, principal autism consultant at the autism-focused Pathlight School.

They also struggle with managing last-minute session location changes and getting from one class to the next on time.

Policy and Practice: New initiative to introduce the workforce into SPED

A new vocational education curriculum for Special Education (SPED) Schools was introduced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in July, with an emphasis on teaching soft skills to help SPED pupils get ready for the workforce.

According to the ministry, approximately 450 students graduate from Sped schools each year, with roughly half of them either getting jobs or progressing to Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs).

According to MOE estimates, students with special educational needs make up about 3% of the full-time student population in IHLs over the last three years.

Each IHL, according to the government, has a special educational needs support office that can be contacted for assistance before enrolment.

IHL educators are trained to work with children with learning differences. It was also stated that support officers advise both students and special educators on how to create intervention plans and keep track of individuals who need more intensive care.

Ministry of Education's efforts in supporting Student with Learning Disabilities

In polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, Singaporean students with learning and social challenges, such as dyslexia and autism, can access a fund for up to $5,000 in help or gadgets, according to MOE.

The University Well-being Office at Nanyang Technological University stated its Inclusion and Accessible Education team collaborates with students, schools, and the university to offer support. This promotes general education at the university to be more accessible and inclusive.

Students who struggle with writing, for example, may be given access to laptop and printer services, as well as more time during exams. When new students with special needs approach the team, they are assigned to a buddy who has been trained in disability awareness to assist them in adjusting to university life to improve their learning process and their experience in school.

But as always, experts and students said more boundaries to be pushed. And more collaborative efforts to be formed.

Innovating teaching and learning to promote Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs.

According to Ms. Serena Abdullah, assistant director of curriculum at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), certain students may find it even more difficult to assimilate new material due to language processing and short-term memory problems linked to dyslexia.

IHL students are expected to speak up for their learning needs, which can be difficult for dyslexic students who might not have the communication skills to ask for accommodations like materials with larger text or taking exams in a different room.

Additionally, some children can be afraid of stigmatization and not disclose their learning difficulties.

According to Ms. Abdullah, schools can deliver lectures using a variety of media, including audio and video materials, explicit, bite-sized instructions, and improved channels for students to get guidance.

Communication and social skills are taught at Pathlight School, as said by Ms. Chua. Students attend lessons daily at its partner mainstream schools to facilitate the transition to such institutions.

Major Challenges for Paul and Friends: Factors that Hinder

However, Paul (not his real name), a fourth-year autistic social work student at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, claimed that there was little interaction between Pathlight and mainstream school students and that the transition from Pathlight to junior college and university was difficult.

Paul, 25, claimed that the education settings and class sizes increased significantly from a ratio of roughly 10 students per teacher in Pathlight to a minimum of 70 students per teacher.

He and five other autistic people ST spoke with reported having trouble making friends with their university classmates because they thought the students lacked understanding of autism.

Paul stated that people should learn to comprehend the perspectives of individuals who think differently.

"I was ostracised throughout uni life. Cliques formed from day one and tend to stick with each other throughout uni. After that, it's nearly impossible to join in," he said.

"I tried many times to talk to the school counsellor about my situation in class, but I felt that the session was trying to fix me instead of getting the class to be more inclusive."

MIJ Hub's Promise to the Special Needs Community

Inclusivity, means including All. At MIJ Hub, we are dedicated to Inclusion because we believe that everyone deserves respect and to be given an opportunity in life. Ensuring all categories of people are accommodated for.

At MIJ Hub, we aim to establish a safe, inclusive and conducive one stop centre for special needs education supporting children with various learning differences and abilities, in every touchpoint of their life journey that leads to an inspirational, purposeful and dignified life.

Our mission is to equip, empower and inspire these individuals, through our various programmes and special education services so that they are able to thrive in the society and become responsible citizens.

Guiding Children with Special Educational Needs since 2011

Founded 10 years ago, MIJ Hub has been dedicated to enhance the learning approaches and attitude towards improving the quality of Special Education in Singapore.

Our aim it is to allow every special needs individuals whether toddlers or students in higher education, be equipped with the necessary skills at all levels while meeting the needs of the special school education policies and upholding the educational experiences of students in MIJ.

MIJ Hub is a non-profit organisation with heavily subsidised programmes to ensure educational access to special needs individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Our services comprises Student Care, Early Intervention, Educational Programs and Employment Opportunities provided to students with Learning Differences from 3 to 30 years old.

Why should you enrol your kids into MIJ Hub?

If you are looking for a formal education that emphasizes the need of inclusive learning thats equipped with highly trained and experienced school teachers and trainers that worked with special needs individuals from the age of 3 to 30 years old in the most conducive education settings, My Inspiring Journey Hub also known as MIJ Hub is the school of your choice.

source: The Strait Times Singapore

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