Pathlight to open new campus in Tampines to meet demand
To meet an increase in demand for primary-level places, Pathlight School will open a new campus in Tampines in January 2023 which can take in 500 pupils with autism spectrum disorder.
This is in addition to its main school in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 and its interim campus in Ang Mo Kio Street 44.
The new campus was announced by Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah yesterday at the main school.
The two existing campuses cater to 1,400 primary, secondary and vocational-level students with autism spectrum disorder and possibly moderate to severe special education needs. The number includes 1,001 primary pupils.
The new campus will be built in Tampines Street 91 on a site previously occupied by East View Primary School. The location was selected based on the geographical distribution of Pathlight’s current demand and the site’s close proximity to mainstream schools like Junyuan Primary School and St Hilda’s Primary School, said the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Pathlight students and their peers in mainstream schools will have opportunities to interact through joint activities.
Such interaction will give the youth a better understanding of people with special needs and train them to interact with one another, Ms Indranee said in her speech. “As the students grow in empathy, our society will grow in inclusivity,” she added.
An example of collaboration was when Yio Chu Kang Secondary School involved Pathlight students in planning and executing Secondary 1 orientation activities this year. The new campus will have an open community space where Pathlight pupils can interact with members of the public.
“(Promoting inclusivity) is about changing mindsets so that we do not see those with special education needs as ‘other’ but simply as people like us who just happen to have different needs,” said Ms Indranee, who was at Pathlight to launch the Professor Brawn Cafe, a social enterprise which offers inclusive job opportunities.
Up to 50 students a year from the secondary and vocational track will have an opportunity to train at the cafe. They will have responsibilities like making drinks, manning the cashier and serving orders, and will gain transferable work skills like social communication.
In her speech, Ms Indranee cited research showing that people with disabilities hope for greater independence. Their quality of life is higher if they are employed as work provides community, purpose and income. “That is true for anyone, but more so for a person with an invisible disability like autism as they can be frequently misunderstood or excluded,” she added.
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