On 20 November 2017, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), or ARC(S), signifying the continuation of a strategic partnership that had begun in 2014. SUSS and ARC(S) will collaborate on activities that will enhance the quality of learning and teaching, not just for individuals with special needs, but also the community-at-large.
The signatories of this MOU were Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SUSS; and Ms Denise Phua, President of ARC(S) and Supervisor of Pathlight School.
ARC(S) is a not-for-profit charity based in Singapore, dedicated to serving children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, to help these individuals lead meaningful and independent lives in society. It offers a wide range of services, including the running of Pathlight School – the first autism-focused school in Singapore. Pathlight School offers Singapore’s mainstream academic curriculum, together with life-readiness skills, to students with autism and related learning disorders, aged 7 to 18 years or up to 21 years.
One of the initiatives to be launched under this MOU is the development of the ‘Learn for Life e-Campus’ online platform, which enables special needs-learners to acquire important life skills that are critical to the quality of their lives. This first-of-its-kind collaboration – a significant one especially in a time when technology has changed the nature of learning and teaching – will see SUSS lend its expertise and experience in building an e-campus, while ARC(S) provides both content and delivery expertise acquired through its years of autism training and consultancy in Singapore and the region. The initial offerings cover life skills such as physical wellness and public transport; and enrichment modules covering information and communication technology, history and music.
With anytime, anywhere access, the ‘Learn for Life e-Campus’ aims to extend learning beyond school hours and formal school years, empowering the special needs community to adopt technologically savvy lifelong learning, and be future-ready. It also seeks to equip caregivers with resources to better support their children and reinforce learning at home. Depending on the learning profile of the special needs student and hence, the degree of support required, learning can be more self-driven or facilitated by either their educators and/or their family caregivers.
Professor Cheong said: “SUSS is a forerunner in using e-learning to empower students for self-directed learning at their convenience and pace. We are pleased to use our expertise to bring these benefits of e-learning to learners with special needs as well as their caregivers. E-learning will allow the learners and caregivers or facilitators to tailor the learning according to the needs of the learners. With such learners, the ability to learn anytime, anywhere and at their own pace is a big advantage, making learning more inclusive and effective.”
To further support their shared vision of supporting inclusion, SUSS and ARC(S) will collaborate to deliver e-learning courses and resources on autism for the general public. SUSS students will also be encouraged to intern with special schools such as Pathlight School and Eden School to enable them to gain a better understanding of special education needs and support.
Signatories of the MOU (with folders), Professor Cheong Hee Kiat and Ms Denise Phua, together with (from left) Ms Florence Oong, Head of e-Campus at Pathlight School; Ms Kwek Puay Khoon, ARC(S) board member; Ms Linda Kho, Principal of Pathlight School; Associate Professor Wong Yue Kee, Vice President of Learning Services at SUSS; Professor Tsui Kai Chong, Provost of SUSS;
Mr Kiang Tzy Peng, Principal Projects Associate at SUSS; Dr Yap Meen Sheng, Director of UC at SUSS;
and Mrs Stephenie Khoo, Executive Director of ARC(S).