Singapore

Dedicated support for pre-schoolers with hearing loss at new centre

Children with hearing loss will get dedicated support for the first time at a pre-school run by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The kindergarten, which starts operations next year, will teach sign language to children with moderate to profound hearing loss.

The aim is for them to build basic language proficiency in Singapore Sign Language from a young age, so they can learn the same curriculum as their hearing peers.

Besides having a dedicated sign language teacher, children will have access to external speech and language therapists as well as services provided by audiologists in school.

The centre, which will be located within Mayflower Primary School in Ang Mo Kio, will have a capacity of 120 children each cohort.

It will take in seven to 10 children with hearing loss per level from 2022.

There are no plans to expand the specialised support to other MOE kindergartens, as the number of children with hearing loss in each cohort is not large.

Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling, who announced this provision yesterday during a visit to Mayflower Primary School, said: "We believe that the earlier the children with hearing loss come into contact with the Singapore Sign Language, the better their foundations in it.

"It will help to build their confidence and allow them to interact better with their peers."

She added: "Such a model allows greater inclusion in our education system. It allows our typically developing children to see and interact with children of different abilities."

She said children with hearing loss will benefit from having regular interaction with their peers as it can boost their confidence and help them socialise better.

The other children will also be able to pick up sign language.

Mrs Lim-Chua Siow Ling, principal of Mayflower Primary, said having the specialised support in the pre-school will help ease the transition for these children to primary school, as early exposure to the language is important for their learning and social skills.

Education