Singapore-Vietnam Collaboration to Enhance Quality of Special Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Singapore International Foundation marks 10 years of collaboration with Vietnam in uplifting lives of students with diverse abilities and needs through special education projects.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 26 November 2019 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF), in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education (HCMUE) and Rainbow Centre Singapore (RCS), launched the Teaching and Learning for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) project in Ho Chi Minh City today. This capacity-building project aims to enhance the quality of special education for children with ASD in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

With today’s launch, the project is expected to benefit at least 730 special education teachers and practitioners in Ho Chi Minh City. The project is also expected to positively impact present and future cohorts of children with ASD, and their parents and caregivers, from some 16 schools and three hospitals in the city.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, a team of specialist Singapore International Volunteers (SIV), comprising a multidisciplinary group of special education professionals from RCS, will collaborate directly with 230 Vietnamese teachers through the sharing of knowledge, skills and best practices in ASD. Out of this pool of Vietnamese teachers, 30 will be identified as master trainers (MT) and equipped with the skills to train peers in their field. Several MTs will subsequently be selected as Advisors to oversee future implementations of the special education training across schools and affiliated institutions in Vietnam, ensuring the sustainability of the programme.

Trainees will undergo a series of workshops, a symposium, as well as a study visit to Singapore for cross-cultural learning and knowledge exchange. Parents and caregivers of children with ASD will also have the opportunity to join a public sharing session on supporting the developmental needs of their child. At the end of the project, we expect trainees to have improved their skills and knowledge including an increased in-depth understanding of the culture of autism and developing effective strategies for working with children with ASD.

This project in Ho Chi Minh City marks the SIF’s second special education initiative in Vietnam. It follows the success of an earlier project in Hanoi with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training and National College of Education (NCE) on Special Education that ran for six years (Phase 1: 2010-2012 and Phase 2: 2015-2017). The Hanoi project saw a total of 75 special education practitioners developed as master trainers, who in turn cascaded their learnings to some 500 teachers in the field. In 2017, Mrs Lee Hsien Loong, wife of the Singapore Prime Minister, visited the project to observe how the collaboration between SIVs and NCE staff had resulted in significant improvements made to services delivered to children with special needs in Vietnam. Overall, the SIF’s special education projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will benefit more than 1,800 practitioners in the Vietnamese special education community by 2022.

The Teaching and Learning for Children with ASD project was launched by Ms Lee Huay Leng, Governor, SIF; Ms Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director, RCS; and Associate Professor Huynh Van Son, Vice Rector, HCMUE. Other Singaporean and Vietnamese dignitaries and partners in attendance included Mr Roy Kho, Consul-General, Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City; Mr Phan Duy Nghia, Permanent Secretary, Vietnam-Singapore Friendship Association, Ho Chi Minh City; and Ms Nguyen Thi Hong Diem, Acting President, Ho Chi Minh City Union of Friendship Organizations.

Ms Lee Huay Leng, Governor, SIF, said: “The SIF is pleased to embark on our latest special education project with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education and Rainbow Centre Singapore. We are bringing together Vietnamese and Singaporean professionals to share expertise and skills in special education to positively impact children with ASD in Ho Chi Minh City. This project also marks a new milestone in the SIF’s efforts of strengthening mutual trust and understanding with the Vietnamese community at the people-to-people level.”

Associate Professor Huynh Van Son, Vice Rector, HCMUE, said: “The Ho Chi Minh City University of Education is delighted to partner the Singapore International Foundation and Rainbow Centre Singapore for this project. As ASEAN neighbours, we have come together to address a shared challenge – raising the quality of education for our children with special needs. We look forward to many more meaningful collaborations with our Singaporean friends in the years to come.”

“Rainbow Centre is honoured to be able to share our experience and expertise with special needs educators beyond our shores. This is our way of paying it forward, similar to how we benefitted from the help of experienced practitioners over 30 years ago when we set up our first school for children with multiple disabilities. Our dream is that our work will lead to persons with disabilities leading empowered and thriving lives in inclusive communities, in Singapore, Vietnam and beyond,” said Ms Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director, RCS.

Since 1994, the SIF has collaborated on a wide range of projects in the areas of healthcare, education, arts and culture, youth leadership, and social entrepreneurship with multi-sectoral Vietnamese partners. At the global level, this project contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality Education, specifically Goal 4C) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for sustainable development).



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