SPD Education Programme 2012 – Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat

Speech for SPD Education Programme 2012

18 Feb 2012



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Ms Chia Yong Yong
President, Society for the Physically Disabled

Distinguished guests


Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon.

Thank you for having me here today. Yesterday, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam unveiled Budget 2012, with the theme of ‘an inclusive society, a stronger Singapore’. There are significant measures to assist the elderly, those from low income families and those with disabilities.

  1. For persons with disabilities, the approach is to assist at each stage of their life journey – from pre-school, to school or special school, and employment. While the financial assistance is important, the real meaning goes beyond that. Ultimately, it is about nurturing the character of our society. As DPM Tharman puts it,

“But we all know that building an inclusive society is not just about government redistributing resources to help the poor. It is about building a society where at its heart, people retain a deep sense of responsibility for their families and seek every opportunity to improve themselves and do better. Where employers treat workers with respect, value their contributions and reward them fairly. Where the more successful step forward to help others in the community, because they feel for their fellow citizens. And where Singaporeans actively participate in causes that will make this a better society. An inclusive society will only blossom if we grow this spirit of responsibility and community.”

  1. The event that SPD organises today exemplifies this spirit of responsibility and community. SPD has been organising this awards presentation for many years now. Today, we come together to affirm our belief in Singapore to help every child succeed, regardless of life’s circumstances or family resources. Every child deserves a chance to excel.
  2. SPD’s services for children with disabilities include not only rehabilitation and therapy but also educational support. May I commend your efforts to help students with physical disabilities studying in mainstream schools as well as students with physically disabled parents.
  3. At MOE, we are heartened to see SPD come forward to provide support to schools, not only for students with physical disabilities but also for children with learning difficulties. While their financial support is helpful to the students and their families, especially in times of economic uncertainty, the holistic range of services provided reflects SPD’s dedication towards improving the educational experience and opportunities for students with disabilities.
  4. A good example of how SPD has improved the opportunities for students is Ms Nur Syahidah Binte Alim, who has been receiving the SPD Education Programme bursary since she was in Secondary One in 1998. Nur Syahidah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, but that has not stopped her from living life to the fullest and aspiring to become a research analyst in future. She obtained her degree in Business Management at SMU last August and is now pursuing a Masters in Knowledge Management at NTU. We wish you all the best, Nur Syahidah!
  5. SPD will be awarding the SPD Aspiration Award to Mr Tay Wei Ming, a student at Nanyang Polytechnic who was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, a nerve condition that affects arm movements. Wei Ming avid is an avid badminton player and has represented Singapore in the ASEAN Para Games in 2010 and 2011. Besides winning Gold in the Single category in 2010 and 2011, Wei Ming also clinched a Silver medal in the Double category in 2011. Wei Ming hopes to bring more success to Singapore in the badminton arena in future and has dreams of becoming a badminton coach. I wish you every success!
  6. I would like to commend the organisations that have stepped up and responded to the needs of our students with their generous contributions. Your support is invaluable in enabling SPD to provide these much needed services. In particular, I would like to mention NatSteel Holdings, the main sponsor for this year’s award, and which has been supporting SPD for 4 years.
  7. The Ministry of Education is committed to supporting students with physical disabilities. We will ensure that they have access to quality education, regardless of their physical challenges. To date, 38 designated primary schools and 30 designated secondary schools are fully equipped with handicapped facilities to support the needs of students with physical disabilities.
  8.  Besides the provision of physical facilities, the ministry collaborates with voluntary welfare organisations (VWO), such as SPD, to strengthen the support given to students with disabilities in schools. VWOs play an important role in equipping teachers and allied educators with the skills to meet the needs of these students. VWOs also help to provide quality transition support and educational intervention to improve students’ learning experience in school. The ministry welcomes closer collaboration.
  9. To build a caring society, those of us who have received should give back to society. I hope the students here today agree with this. You have overcome many challenges in life, through your own determination as well as with the support from your family and the community. Stay connected with SPD where you can reach out, mentor and use your experiences to encourage others who are facing similar challenges, for example, by tutoring student beneficiaries of SPD. By doing so, the next generation of recipients can benefit from your experience, and with it, help the recipients of the future.



  1. In closing, I congratulate all our students here today, and urge you to scale new heights and reach for your dreams. Live positively and give of your best in everything you do. We look forward to the success you will achieve in the years ahead. Together, we can build a better future for all Singaporeans.

Thank you.

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