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Mr. Norman Kee



National Institute of Education - Psychology and Child & Human Development

Norman Kiak Nam KEE M.Tech (NUS), M.Ed (NTU), B.Sc, Dip.Ed. Tech, Dip.Ed, B.C.S.E, a former secondary school teacher, has been a lecturer with the Psychology and Child & Human Development Academic Group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, for at least a decade. He is Board Certified in Special Education by the American Academy of Special Education Professionals. He is also an elected member of the Omega Gamma Chi, a national honour society for special education teachers of the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET).

He is a father with three adult sons with autism. His children are working in competitive and supported employment through God’s Blessings of resources and opportunities and working harmoniously with his wife and many others. He is currently teaching and sharing experiences of what works and why from his research, publications, and trialling of many evidence-based strategies and approaches in pre-service, in-service and consultancy courses. Essentially, it is an eclectic fusion of best practices that are pragmatic, practical and doable by educators and caregivers.

He also has researched and worked with caregivers on what makes sense with reassurance that it will work from available knowledge and understanding from the field of neuroscience of people with special needs, focusing on inclusive practices and intervention for learning, behavioural support and employment.

Presentation Topic and Synopsis

Forging a Compassionate Meritocracy for Students with Special Needs

In Singapore, meritocracy is widely regarded as a “core principle of governance… and close as anything gets to being a national ideology” (Low, 2014). However, this has led to problems such as the creation of an elite class and a wide socioeconomic gap between those who have achieved and those who presumably have not.

In response to these problems, local political leaders have suggested that Singapore might benefit from a more nuanced iteration of meritocracy. For instance, the notion of a “compassionate meritocracy” was first espoused in 2013 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. It was recently mentioned again in June 2022 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the Forward Singapore Exercise.

However, what does a “compassionate meritocracy” really mean and importantly, how might this benefit students with special needs? The accomplishments of these students will invariably differ from more traditional conceptions of merit. Furthermore, is it even possible for a meritocracy to be compassionate, and have we considered other alternatives (such as egalitarianism) sufficiently?

Join us at this panel discussion where we will hear from a group of thoughtful and experienced experts, teachers and parents on their views and perspectives of how we could begin to define an inclusive working model of a compassionate meritocracy for all Singapore students.

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