SINGAPORE: The Singapore Japanese Secondary School established special needs classes this academic year as long sought by Japanese expatriates in the Southeast Asian country.
Masako Mori, special adviser to the Japanese prime minister, praised the institute for becoming the first Japanese international school abroad to open special needs classes solely for junior high school students.
“It’ll be a role model that I think will lead to moves to open such classes in other countries,” said Mori, who worked for the establishment of the Singapore classes.
The three-year secondary school of the Japanese School Singapore has one class for four students with intellectual disabilities and another for four students with behavioral problems. A homeroom teacher and an assistant are assigned to each class, and a special support education coordinator oversees the entire system.
Previously, children who attended special needs classes at the Japanese School Singapore’s elementary school division ended up without any such class at the secondary school. Some had to return to Japan with their families.
The secondary school opened the classes in response to calls from parents. Principal Hiroyuki Tamura said he hopes the new classes will be a catalyst for the entire Japanese School Singapore to become more inclusive.
Tamura plans to increase such classes in accordance with the number of students with special needs. From next academic year, the school will have a new system where students in regular classes can receive private lessons tailored to the types of their disabilities.
“When I entered the school, I saw a new shiny classroom. I’m so excited that I automatically wake up at 5 o’clock every morning,” said a new student, pleased about the special needs classes.
Japan enforced a law in June 2022 to ensure state funding for special needs education at schools for Japanese children living abroad. Mori worked for the establishment of the law.
There are 94 Japanese international schools in 49 countries and one region with far over 10,000 students in total. While 44 schools have fewer than 50 students, the Japanese School Singapore is large with about 450 students only at its secondary school.