I agree that it is essential for children with disabilities to be integrated into our mainstream education system.
Some may argue that children with disabilities cannot adapt to our mainstream education as more time and attention is needed for them and most teachers are not trained for that. It takes up resources and precious time to train teachers and change their lesson plans just to accommodate to these "special children", hence most parents of these disabled children do not prefer to enrol their child in mainstream schools. According to the news last year, a parent who has a 12-year-old son has auditory processing disorder. When her child was in primary school, some teachers try to be helpful, but they do not understand his condition. They will complain that he is not paying attention but it can't be helped as they have so many children in class to look after. A primary-school teacher, also noted the spectrum of special needs, some of which can cause children to be disruptive in class. Teachers would have to cater for special needs children and customize their teaching methods, but if there are too many of such children in a class, it is unfair to expect mainstream teachers to be able to cope. Hence, when these disabled children are to be integrated into our mainstream education system, I’m afraid that they are unable to adapt as mainstream teachers are not trained to teach them. However, there are now an increasing number of allied educators which support children with special needs in mainstream schools, allowing these children to be able to adapt to our mainstream education system and benefit greatly from there.
However I believe that children with disabilities can adapt to our mainstream education if the government puts in more resources to make the education system a more inclusive one. Last November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the need for Singapore society to value every individual. Speaking at the 50th anniversary gala dinner for SPD, a social service provider and advocate for the disability community, he said: “Are people with special needs just there to be helped or should they not be people who matter in our society, who are enabled to contribute to our society in full measure? Our society should value every person ... These are the basic principles that should guide us as we build a fair and just society.” Children with disabilities can be educated and become contributing members of the force, if they receive timely and effective early intervention. To do that, the government can reduce support given to the current bright and well-do students and instead, support the children with more severe special needs. As long as the government does more to provide help and financial support in pre-school education for families with special needs children, these children can fit in the workplace. Once you give these children a structured education, they may be a little slower, but they are able to produce the same results average children can. If the government does not give these children a platform to grow, they will not be able to find a place in society. Integrating children with disabilities in programmes and schools with mainstream children would be more resource-intensive, requiring dedicated teachers to guide those with special needs, but it is not impossible.