Making higher education more accessible for the differently-abled

Parliamentary Question, 4 Nov 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Education (a) what are the Ministry’s plans to make higher education in Singapore more accessible and inclusive for the differently-abled by disabilities; and (b) what are the support schemes, financial or otherwise, that are available to such students.

Mr Ong Ye Kung: The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to ensuring that all students, including those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) enrolled in our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), receive the support they need.

Hence, all IHLs have set up dedicated SEN Support Offices which provide one-stop services to support students with SEN, from pre-enrolment to graduation.

Before enrolling in an IHL, students can approach the SEN Support Offices in the IHLs for advice on the types of courses that might be more suited to their interests and learning needs. We also put in place arrangements where schools will share SEN-related information with IHLs, to facilitate the students’ transition to a new education environment.

For polytechnic and ITE students who require financial support in purchasing education-related assistive technology devices and support services, they can tap on the SEN fund. Eligible students with physical impairment may draw up to $5,000 from the SEN fund while those with visual or hearing loss may draw up to $25,000 over the course of their study, with more support provided to those with higher needs. Students with severe hearing, physical and visual impairment may draw up to $70,000 from the SEN fund over the course of their study.

To prepare students with SEN for the workforce, our IHLs put in additional effort in career guidance to these students, including helping them identify suitable internship opportunities and prepare them for their internships. The IHLs also work closely with SG Enable and Voluntary Welfare Organisations for specialised mentorship programmes and job matching. They are also training faculty and staff to raise their awareness and understanding of SEN, and to build a more inclusive campus culture.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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 climate change in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.