SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education is reviewing pathways and opportunities in post-secondary education such as polytechnics and institutes of technical education (ITEs).
Speaking during the Committee of Supply (COS) debate on the ministry in Parliament on Wednesday (3 March), Second Minister of Education Dr Maliki Osman said that the review, which he is leading, will explore opportunities and pathways in applied education to better support the diverse strengths and aspirations of polytechnic and ITE students.
"About two-thirds of ITE graduates in full-time permanent employment reported that their job was related to their course. For polytechnics, it is about three-quarters," he said during Parliament.
"Having said that, we think we can do better in ensuring better salary outcomes for our ITE and polytechnic graduates.
"With ongoing deep industry transformation and disruptions accelerated by COVID-19, our education and training system must continue to evolve, to help our students seize opportunities and succeed in the future economy."
The review team comprises representatives from the public, private and people sectors, many of whom have deep engagements and experience in the polytechnic and ITE sector, as well as polytechnic and ITE leaders.
Dr Maliki shared an overview of the ideas that have emerged so far:
Recognising students’ diverse interests and aspirations and supporting them as they explore different options. This includes strengthening porosity and flexibility in our education pathways, and ensuring strong Education and Career Guidance (ECG);
Ensuring that courses and curriculum remain industry-relevant, and prepare students well to enter the workforce after graduation;
Needing to invest in life skills of students, including essential competencies such as cross-cultural communication, critical thinking and collaboration, which are relevant across jobs and disciplines, as well as life outside the workplace;
Strengthening support for students in the polytechnics and ITEs with higher needs.
Streamlining ITE curriculum to allow more students attain Higher Nitec
One key aspect of this review is to enhance ITE’s curricular structure, as MOE will streamline the ITE curriculum to allow more students to attain a Higher Nitec (National ITE Certificate) qualification within a shorter time.
This will give ITE graduates greater access to upgrading opportunities, while ensuring they remain nimble to meet the needs of industry transformation.
"We will streamline the ITE curriculum, to provide more students the opportunity to attain a Higher Nitec in a shorter duration," Dr Maliki said.
"This will equip our ITE graduates with deeper industry-relevant skills, which provide a stronger foundation for future skills upgrading. We will also ensure sufficient flexibility for students of different profiles under this new system to cater to different learning needs and paces."
More details will be released in the coming months.
Expanding Common Entry Programme in polytechnics
The Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will continue to enhance inter-disciplinary exposure and opportunities in their undergraduate curriculum, either in the form of new degree programmes or in their core curriculum.
For the applied pathways in polytechnics, students can also expect to be exposed to a greater breadth of learning and modules.
The polytechnics also have plans to expand the Common Entry Programme (CEP) offerings from the Academic Year 2023 intake, when the programme will be expanded to include the Arts, Design and Media as well as Sciences clusters. This adds to the existing suite of CEPs offered in the Engineering, Business as well as Information and Digital Technologies clusters.
MOE said that student feedback on the existing CEPs have been strong, and they have indicated that the CEPs enable them to better appreciate the demands of each course, and discover their interests and strengths before deciding on their specific diploma course.
"We will introduce CEPs in the Arts, Design and Media, and Sciences clusters in all the polytechnics from 2023. With this change, we expect 25 per cent of Year 1 diploma students to enter polytechnic via a CEP, up from the 20% currently," Dr Maliki said.
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