Lee Kong Chian Gardens School is Singapore’s first permanent school for intellectually-disabled children. The school was officially opened on 29 November 1969 by then Patron for the Singapore Association for Retarded Children (SARC) and First Lady, Puan Noor Aishah, to provide employment training for intellectually-disabled children. The school replaced three centres at borrowed premises in Ah Hood, Outram and Sims Avenue.
The school comprised three octagonal workshops, a tuck shop and an administrative office. One of the workshops had a small industrial assembly operation where students would assemble flexes for Philips electric irons. At each work station along the assembly line, every student was required to perform a specific task ranging from taping to soldering. Leong Chee Weng (b.1957), an ex-student at the school, was responsible for the coiling which was the last and most difficult step. He recalled, “I was a fast learner. Besides attending to my own station, I would move around the assembly line to help my fellow workers. Though our earnings were low, we derived satisfaction from taking money home to our families”.
In 1981, the school was extended to accommodate four new classrooms and increase intake from 60 to 248. In 1985, the SARC changed its name to Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS). In 2000, the school had a facelift. Today, there are 5 MINDS centres including Lee Kong Chian Gardens School.