Parliamentary Question, 12 February 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Education (a) what is the total number of deaf students in schools last year; (b) what inclusion programmes are in place for both the hearing and deaf students; and © with the plan to mainstream deaf students, whether the Ministry will consider SgSL (Singapore Sign Language) as an elective “third language” for all schools.

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung: As at December 2018, there were about 1,300 students with reported hearing loss in our mainstream primary and secondary schools.

The majority of students with reported hearing loss in mainstream schools have mild symptoms, and are able to communicate with teachers and peers orally. MOE supports their learning by working with organisations such as the Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf) to provide itinerant educational services to these students. MOE also provides funding for these students to use assistive technological devices such as Frequency Modulation systems to help them access the learning.

Students with moderate-to-severe hearing loss who require additional educational support have a number of options. For students who communicate orally, they may enrol in Canossian School, a SPED school offering the national curriculum. Canossian School has a satellite partnership with Canossa Catholic Primary School which enables the students with hearing loss to be fully integrated with their mainstream peers. Upon completion of their primary education, these students may articulate to designated mainstream secondary schools, namely St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School or Outram Secondary School, where there are Resource Teachers to support the learning needs of students with hearing loss.

For a small number of students who communicate using sign language, they may enrol in Mayflower Primary School, a designated primary school for Hearing Loss (signing) students. At the school, students with Hearing Loss learn alongside their peers, co-taught by a Specialised Teacher using Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). The school is also resourced with an Educational Interpreter who provides sign interpretation for students to access school-wide activities. Upon completion of their primary education, these HL students may progress to Beatty Secondary School, also a designated school for Hearing Loss (signing) students. For students with more complex needs such as both hearing loss and intellectual disability, they may enrol in Lighthouse School which provides a customised curriculum.

MOE supports the adoption of SgSL as the language of instruction and communication[1] in our designated and SPED schools. In these schools, the school community is encouraged to learn SgSL to facilitate communication and interaction with HL students. For example, Mayflower Primary School organises SgSL enrichment programmes for students and teachers who would like to learn the language.

Note(s) to question 25:

[1] This is an important component of the Bilingual approach, an established method in deaf education which uses both the natural sign language of the deaf community (e.g. American Sign Language (ASL), German Sign Language (GSL), French Sign Language (FSL) and the written/spoken language of the hearing community (English, German, French).


Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities.

She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

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