About 300 children with special educational needs to be applauded for academic and non-academic achievements at the DAS Student Graduation & Achievement Awards Ceremony 2020

SINGAPORE, 27 NOVEMBER 2020 – The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) will hold its 18th Student Graduation & Achievement Awards Ceremony on 28 November 2020. This annual ceremony holds special significance this year as these 341 students, from across 14 DAS Learning Centres, have risen above disruptions to their learning journey caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to make remarkable achievements in academic and other endeavours.

The majority of the cohort is 220 graduands who have successfully completed the curriculum of the DAS Main Literacy Programme (MLP) supported by the Ministry of Education and developed strong competencies in areas such as phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency and comprehension, and writing. The ceremony will also recognise 57 MLP students with achievement awards for displaying outstanding progress in literacy development. The MLP students will be joined by 68 students who will receive the DAS Specialised Educational Services (SES) Awards as a recognition of their academic progress while attending SES programmes such as Chinese, Maths, PREP 2 PSLE, Speech and Drama Arts, Specialist Tutoring, Preschool and Speech and Language Therapy.

In March 2020, DAS had to transition more than 3,000 students from physical to full online teaching and learning due to Singapore’s circuit breaker measures. Despite initial apprehension and challenges, ninety-eight percent of MLP students were able to attend online teaching for two hours a week; more than 100 students with no access to devices also received refurbished laptops and 10 households received free Internet access.

“The DAS family has proven that it has the resilience and nimbleness to cope with this year’s challenges. Well done to all the DAS students who continued with your lessons even during the circuit breaker. You have persisted and you have made it through. Edutech has been a feature of DAS instruction for many years and this has supported DAS in successfully making the switch to online learning. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is pleased to partner DAS in their MLP which has around 3,000 students today and benefitted many students over the years,” said Mrs Lucy Toh, Divisional Director, MOE Special Educational Needs Division. Prior to the ceremony, President Halimah Yacob also visited the DAS Rex House Learning Centre on 17 November, in line with the focus of this year’s President’s Challenge on empowering people with disabilities. During the visit, she was briefed on various DAS programmes and services; and met the 2020 Young Achiever Award and Special Achievement Awards Winners.

2020 Young Achiever Award and Special Achievement Awards Winners Ho Wei Rui will be presented with the 2020 Young Achiever Award for being an inspiration to DAS students through his remarkable academic achievements. Due to dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Wei Rui struggled with reading and writing from a young age and found it hard to cope in class. But after enrolling into DAS classes, he developed not just competence, but a passion for reading fictional books. After completing secondary school, Wei Rui took up an internship in the industrial sector and discovered his interest in electrical and mechanical systems. This led him to pursue a Diploma in Engineering System with Singapore Polytechnic, where he topped his cohort for three consecutive years and obtained a Diploma with Merit.

For his achievements, Wei Rui has won several awards such as Director’s Honour Roll 2018 and 2019, SKF Asia Pacific Prize, LTA Book Prize and SMRT Gold Medal.
“I went from someone who is not able to read and write to passing my PSLE, N-Level and O-Level examinations and then to be successful in polytechnic. Now, I have been offered a place in the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to pursue my studies in 2022 after I have completed National Service. I am where I am because of the people who have supported me. On this special occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my parents for always being a pillar of support to me; and DAS teachers including teacher Alia, teacher Karen and teacher Julia for supporting me during my learning journey, continuously helping me and never giving up on me. Without all of you, I would not have been able to overcome my struggles with dyslexia,” said Wei Rui.

DAS will also present the 2020 Special Achievement Awards to two students for demonstrating exceptionally high levels of commitment and determination to achieve all-rounded excellence. The first recipient will be 13-year-old Tan Jia Shyan Adelle, who maintained excellent grades in all of her subjects on top of her active involvement in the arts such as the Singapore Youth Festival Arts 2018, Nuit de Musique Concert 2018 and Voices of Singapore 2019.

The other recipient is 13-year-old Keong Jin Xing Marques, to be recognised for his outstanding performance and leadership qualities in his co-curricular activities. His talent, leadership and hard work have earned him the E T Lim Scholarship for Sports and the Performing Arts in 2018 and 2019. The ceremony also acknowledged DAS educational therapists who have gone the extra mile for their students through the 2020 DAS Therapist of the Year Awards. Educational Therapist Stephanie Ong and Speech and Language Therapist Lee Er Ker have been selected to receive the award this year for their relentless dedication in helping their students realise their potential despite the additional challenges from the pandemic. “We are extremely proud of our students for not letting the pandemic stop them from learning. Their achievements demonstrate that with early intervention, a supportive learning environment and steadfast teachers, children and people with dyslexia and specific learning differences can prevail over the toughest of circumstances to reach their fullest potential in school and life,” said Mr Lee Siang, CEO of DAS.

In Singapore, an estimated 23,000 students from preschool to secondary school have dyslexia severe enough to warrant intervention. About half of these children may experience co-occurring learning differences such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Specific Language Impairment (SLI), dyscalculia and dyspraxia – emphasising the importance of building SEN expertise in Singapore for a more inclusive society.