Singapore International Foundation Launches Training Programme for Special Education Teachers

Medan, Indonesia, 23 July 2013 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) has launched a two-year speech and occupational therapy training project for special education teachers in Medan, Indonesia - in a bid to enable them to better meet special learning needs of their students.

The SIF Specialist Volunteer Project (Special Needs Education), in collaboration with Medan-based special school Yayasan Abdi Kasih (YADIKA), aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of teachers who provide special education programmes for students with conditions such as autism, Down’s syndrome and mental retardation.

According to the 2010 census from Indonesia’s Education and Culture Ministry, it is estimated that only 100,000 or 30% of special needs children at school going ages of 5 to 18 years old are enrolled in either inclusive schools where they study alongside regular students or special schools with curriculum tailored to suit various learning disabilities. Many of these special schools, which make up 40% of the special education system, are run by non-profit foundations like YADIKA. A common challenge faced by these schools is the lack of trained teachers who can teach special education programmes – an estimated 16,000 teachers for at least 300,000 children identified with special needs.

Over the next two years, Specialist teams of Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) will train a core team of YADIKA teachers to manage speech and behavioural difficulties in special needs students and provide a conducive learning environment for the students .

The specialist volunteers are professional speech and occupational therapists from the Singapore Association of Occupational Therapists and the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore, who provide care for special needs children in Singapore. A team of occupational therapists is in Medan from 22-23 July to conduct the first occupational therapy training frame.

Ms Joanne Lin, Senior Manager for International Volunteerism, SIF, explains the motivation behind the project, “Community-based special schools like YADIKA play an important role in ensuring all children, including those with special needs have an equitable access to education. Hence the Specialist Volunteer trainings will focus on developing a group of special education teachers, equipping them with therapy techniques that provide their students with better learning opportunities. The Singapore team of volunteers is looking forward to working with the teachers and empowering them to make a difference in the lives of their students - towards independence, however small or big”.

Yustinus Sukisno, Principal of YADIKA, says, "Yayasan Abdi Kasih’s collaboration with SIF began 20 years ago and over the years, many SIF volunteers have come from Singapore to share their knowledge with us. I am delighted that we are once again, collaborating to improve education for children with special needs. The knowledge transfer this time will enable our special education teachers to have a deeper understanding of their students’ learning needs and develop more appropriate learning methods for them. Furthermore, this will allow our teachers to become more professional in the special education field".



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