Speech by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information, at the NIE Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony

Published Date: 12 January 2016 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Ms Chan Lai Fung, Chairperson, NIE Council

Professor Tan Oon Seng, Director, NIE

Colleagues

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

A very good afternoon to all.

Introduction

1. Let me begin by extending my congratulations to all the new and serving teachers who will be graduating from NIE today. I understand that among you here are teachers who will be receiving your degrees today. I congratulate all our graduands and welcome our new teachers to the Singapore education fraternity.

Innovating Teacher Education for Student Success

2. A Primary One student today might be ready to enter the world of work somewhere between eleven to fifteen years later. Many careers are possible for the Primary One students of today. The challenge of preparing students to do well, to be dynamic, to deal with an unpredictable future continues to be a key focus of today’s education system and is a key focus of what you will do on a day-to-day basis.

3. To meet the needs of our students’ future, we have to think of the principles of learning and adapt our pedagogies to respond to the needs of our present age and the future. At NIE, an institute-wide Teaching and Learning Framework has been developed to help our students become strong thinkers and innovative problem-solvers.

4. This framework aims to foster learner experiences characterised by the “EPIIC” acronym ─ Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, Inquiry and Connectivity. Under this you take on the role of “facilitators” rather than “instructors”, meaning you have an important task in guiding students to engage in meaningful and critical discussions that promote creative thinking, collaboration and self-reflection.

5. To help you deliver this learner experience, NIE has put in place processes and incentives to promote innovation and has set aside 1 million dollars to fund pedagogical innovations. These innovations can in turn be adapted for use in NIE programmes and Singapore schools. To assist you in further leveraging technology in the classroom, the former e-learning unit has been revamped and renamed as the Centre for Innovation in Learning (or IN-Learning), providing a greater accessibility and more customised support for NIE faculty and teaching staff.

6. In addition, there are resources available to help you learn how to enhance the learning experience for your students. As a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, the Pedagogical Database has been developed by NIE to help student-teachers acquire good knowledge of the pedagogical and implementation approaches, it is available to anyone keen to learn about various pedagogical approaches and instructional strategies. The database has resources, such as animations, how-to videos, educational technology tools and stories of implementation experiences both from educators and learners’ perspectives.

7. This means those who teach our teachers, and student-teachers, can look to the NIE Teaching and Learning Framework as a reference guide. So as you formally begin your teaching career, bear in mind that there are rich resources for you to tap on to continually improve and help you grow as a teacher so that you can give your students an “EPIIC” learning experience.

Outstanding Role Models

8. Even as we guide students to become strong thinkers and innovative problem-solvers, we must not forget that we want to also build our students’ characters and inculcate in them the right values. NIE graduates must also serve as ambassadors and custodians of values for future generations of Singaporeans. To this end, NIE launched a programme called Group Endeavours in Service Learning - or GESL - to emphasise the importance of values.

9. I am glad to learn that many, if not all, of the graduands here have demonstrated that they are dedicated to the purpose and ethos of the teaching profession. Their actions exemplify what it means to be a caring, courageous and committed teacher.

10. Xiao Jing Joshua and his GESL group planned a range of activities capitalising on the strengths of the individuals in the group and also taking into consideration the profile of the students with special needs at the Rainbow Centre - Margaret Drive School, or RCMDS. Three main activities ─ Cooking, Reading and Sports ─ were conducted weekly over a period of 5 weeks. The project allowed Joshua and his group members to put their NIE training into practice, giving them a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those in special needs education.

11. Lee Wei Yang and his group approached Darul Ihsan Orphanage (Girls) and worked on a project for the young residents. They enhanced their understanding of the needs and learning characteristics of children from less privileged backgrounds. They taught handicraft skills and also music. The group encouraged and helped the children become more confident through the accomplishment of hands-on tasks.

12. The dedication of our future educators is illustrated in the stories of two graduands - Jeanette Wee and Bryan Ng.

13. Jeanette learnt that she was expecting her second child in January 2015. That was the third semester of her Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Physical Education) programme. Jeanette chose to continue with her classes. She completed her 10 weeks of Practicum during her third trimester. She returned to NIE to continue with the programme just two weeks after giving birth. Today, she completes her programme with the help and understanding of her course mates, lecturers and family.

14. Bryan Ng is a member of the Singapore Rugby team that participated in the SEA Games 2015. Throughout his two years in NIE, he went for 8 to 10 overseas trips for various international rugby competitions and training camps. Despite his busy sporting schedule to contribute to the Singapore sports scene, today, Bryan stands proudly to celebrate the conclusion of his studies in NIE and the bronze medal his team won at SEA Games 2015. He will begin the next phase of his career - to educate our young in schools.

15. Joshua, Wei Yang, Jeanette and Bryan, and all of you who stand alongside them, are examples of young people who exemplify the spirit of the teaching profession. All your stories embody values of empathy, resilience and perseverance - values that you, as teachers, will need to role model and inculcate in students in order to stand them in good stead throughout their life.

Conclusion

16. I welcome you once again to the education fraternity, and wish you a long and fulfilling career as you prepare our next generation of young Singaporeans.

17. Thank you and congratulations.

Share this article: