Speech by Ms Jean Tan, SIF Executive Director, at the Launch of the Occupational Therapy for Children with Special Needs Project, at YPAC Jakarta Auditorium, in Jakarta, Indonesia

Mrs Kumala Insiwi Suryo, Chairperson, Foundation for the Development of Children with Special Needs (YPAC) Jakarta,
Distinguished guests,
Partners and Friends,

Selamat pagi! Thank you for joining us at the launch of the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Occupational Therapy for Children with Special Needs Project.

This project marks the SIF’s second special education, or SPED, initiative in Indonesia. It rides on the success of a Special Needs Education project in Medan from 2013-15, in partnership with Yayasan Abdi Kasih (YADIKA). Then, over 100 SPED teachers were trained to increase the number of teachers proficient in SPED programmes. We are pleased to learn that they are now able to apply new and improved strategies in their curriculum, uplifting the lives of children with disabilities in Medan.

There is still much to be done to reduce the barriers to education for children with disabilities. They are arguably among the most excluded in education sector planning. Some of the challenges they face include social stigma, inaccessible infrastructure, and lack of support for SPED practitioners. This is a global phenomenon. In Indonesia itself, the Ministry of  Education and Culture (MoEC) has estimated that 70% of children with disabilities are not enrolled in school and there is an acute shortage of qualified SPED practitioners. In Singapore, we have only just, this year, made it compulsory for all children with special needs to attend school. It is therefore timely and heartening, to see Singaporeans and Indonesians come together  today, to collaborate and raise standards of support for children with special needs.

Over the next four years, a team of Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) will exchange knowledge and best practices with 50 SPED practitioners in Jakarta. By the project’s end, trainees would be equipped with the tools and strategies for an integrated approach to the management of their beneficiaries. This would include matching behaviours or physical skills to a child’s developmental milestone; using appropriate methods to teach students self-care skills; and using relevant tools for assessing and documenting their progress. Among this pool of trainees, a core group of 20 master trainers will be identified and coached to train their peers, to benefit the wider community in Jakarta. The project also includes a study visit to Singapore and a public symposium. It is expected to benefit over 2,000 members of the Indonesian community, including patients and their families, teachers, volunteers, and other supporting therapists.

At the SIF, we believe in bringing communities together to collaborate and effect positive change. This project has been made possible by the support of our committed partners – YPAC Jakarta and Singapore Health Services. I would also like to thank our team of dedicated SIVs for volunteering their time and talent to a meaningful cause.

2019 marks the 27th year of partnership between the SIF and Indonesia. Our people have worked together on many projects, in areas such as healthcare, education, arts and social entrepreneurship. It is our hope that this new collaboration will further deepen people-to-people ties between our countries.

Terima kasih to everyone for your hand in friendship on this journey. I wish all every success with this project.



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