Dr Francis C. Chen researches on neurobiology and is an educationist by heart. He was previously at the National University of Singapore in the medical faculty teaching neurophysiology.
In 1976, APSN was then known as the Association for Educationally Subnormal Children (AESN). At that time, we had only one school (APSN Katong School) under our wing with little to no funding or support from any Government bodies. Dr Chen was there from the beginning, raising funds & establishing curriculums and frameworks for the association, to building APSN from its humble beginnings to where it stands today.
“This was a historic occasion. This first school would be part of the APSN’s group of schools for many years to come,” said the departed Dr Francis C. Chen back in 1976.
His spoken words became a reality. Now after 40 years, APSN runs four special education schools namely APSN Chaoyang School (APSN CYS), APSN Katong School (APSN KS ), APSN Tanglin School (APSN TS), APSN Delta Senior School (APSN DSS) as well as a Student Care Centre (APSN SCC) and a Centre for Adults (APSN CFA) under his guidance.
Dr Chen was always present at the opening and establishment of every school and his latest accomplishment is the opening of the new custom-built school, APSN Delta Senior School in 2014. Dr Chen was also in the presence of Mr S R Nathan when he declared the opening of two of our schools and wrote a heartfelt tribute in the passing of our Past President.
“With 40 years of dedication, Dr Chen has been the irreplaceable pillar of institutional memory at APSN. He has architected the modern approach to mildly intellectual and special needs education while at the same time nurturing the allied healthcare practitioners regionally through Asian Federation of Intellectual Disabilities”, Dr Victor Tay, President of APSN commended. “His gratification is well summarised at the 40th anniversary when he wistfully stated his dedication of invaluable million of hours in volunteerism at APSN, and met with many priceless gratified moments looking at how the children have progressed as individuals leading dignified, fulfilling and independent lives as integral members of the society”.
“Dr Chen was a founder of the Association and he was actively involved in all these 40 years as a Board member. He had a fantastic memory and was the go-to person when we need to retrieve part of APSN’s history. He had a deep understanding of the charity landscape and we all benefitted from his wisdom and guidance. I first met Dr Chen in 1992 and he encouraged me to join the Board and subsequently to lead it as President for the past four years. With his passing we have lost a friend and mentor and a sparring partner,” said Mr Chan Chee Keong, APSN Vice-President.
At APSN, we remember him fondly for his passion and resilient nature. He believed in creating a space where people with special needs could come and feel valued. A haven where people with mild intellectual disabilities could renew themselves with skills and knowledge so as to become independent and self-sustaining individuals. He believed that no one should ever be left out and wanted to help improve the then demoralising culture in the special needs community.
As we celebrate the life of a man who have given his life to the Special Needs community, we at APSN join the family in mourning of a departed father figure of our Association.