Opening Remarks by Dr Maliki Osman, Second Minister for Education at the Final Townhall for the Review of Opportunities and Pathways in Applied Education

Published Date: 10 July 2021 07:00 PM

News Speeches

1. Good evening everyone. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join us at the final Townhall engagement for the ongoing Review of Opportunities and Pathways in Applied Education. I am heartened to see many of you today – parents, staff, students, alumni, employers and community partners. You are all key stakeholders in our effort at reviewing and improving what we have. There are also some familiar faces who have participated in our previous engagement sessions. Your continued support is very encouraging.

2. We started this consultative process in January this year to seek views from our stakeholders on how the pathways and curricula at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics can be enhanced, so that students are best placed to seize opportunities and thrive in the future economy. Since then, we have had the pleasure of speaking with over a thousand stakeholders, through townhall sessions like today's, and smaller-scale discussions both in-person and over Zoom.

3. Almost 70% of each Primary One cohort progresses through the polytechnics or ITE. Understandably, our students' aspirations and needs are wide-ranging, and our institutions rise to the challenges of managing this diverse set of learner profiles. Some enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Others choose to further studies first, before embarking on their careers. This is why we wanted to speak to stakeholders with different perspectives, so that we can have a more holistic understanding of the diverse needs and aspirations and how we might be better able to support students accordingly.

4. From our discussions so far, it is clear that the polytechnics and ITE must continue to adapt to the changing needs and aspirations of our students, in tandem with the rapidly-evolving demands of industry and the economy. The post COVID world will be even more dynamic and will present new economic opportunities for us to tap on. My team and I have had the privilege to engage in many inspiring and candid conversations. I am heartened that one common thread across these conversations is the acknowledgement and belief that we each have a part to play in this next phase of polytechnic and ITE education, to ensure that students remain nimble and resilient, acquire varied and dynamic sets of skills, and find success in work and life.

5. There has been broad consensus that we must (i) provide greater flexibility in our ITE and polytechnic pathways, (ii) ensure our students are able to adapt and thrive in the future economy while building up their career resilience, (iii) continue to invest in life skills that will prepare students for both work and life, and (iv) strengthen support for students with higher needs. We will have the opportunity to discuss some of these ideas today. My team and I will study all your ideas and suggestions as we develop our recommendations.

6. These conversations have helped shape the enhanced three-year curricular structure in ITE leading directly to a Higher Nitec certification, which we announced in April this year. With this change, ITE students will benefit from two industry attachment stints to strengthen their workplace capabilities. Students with the abilities and aptitude will also benefit from some flexibility within the curriculum, and will be able to attain a Higher Nitec certification in a shorter duration of two years. We are also seeing good initial outcomes from our Work-Study Diploma and Technical Diploma programmes in ITE, as well as the Work-Study Post-Diplomas offered by the polytechnics. We plan to expand these programmes. They are an important part of our range of upgrading pathways, and Continuing Education and Training (CET) offerings.

7. The education landscape is constantly evolving, and I believe we do better when we put our minds together to co-create solutions, building on our experiences and perspectives. So do keep the ideas flowing during the discussions this evening. While today marks the end of our 6 months' long consultation process for the Review, I would like to encourage you to continue to share your feedback and suggestions with us at any time, as we are constantly seeking to enhance our education system and improve student experience in the polytechnics and ITE.

8. I look forward to hearing from you over the course of today's session. Thank you.

Share this article: