Dr. Maliki talks to ITE engineering students during the visit.
It is possible that the part-time job of selling drinks reflected his educational path, but the young man adhered to his vision of further education. This young man was the second Minister of Education Dr. Maliki Osman, who is glad that he persevered to realize his ambitions. In the second two-part series on the formation of Singapore’s applied education, it encourages students to take advantage of the latest improvements in the structure of ITE curricula, enabling faster tracking of required qualifications, expanded workloads, and greater employability.
When I was young, my family always had a hard time with money, so in pre-university days I spent weekends selling drinks at the Singapore Turf Club to help with household expenses.
I thought I was doing pretty well, but when the A-level results were published, I learned I wasn’t doing well enough for the university program I laid my heart on. Of course, I was disappointed because I knew I could do better. Was it because my focus was divided between school and work? I couldn’t say for sure, but it didn’t change the fact that I was standing at a crossroads: “Should I agree to the designated course, or repeat the whole year of my A-level? Do I want to sell drinks for another year? ” By that time I had also already enrolled in the National Service (NS).
It was just one of the memorable checkpoints on my academic journey. I knew I could do better in the exams, and after much deliberation decided to sit at level A again as a private candidate. Next were many nights of exam preparation during NS training a day. It was really hard, so hard that I got a serious chest infection before the exam season. But the sacrifices paid off; I achieved the best results!
I remember the first thing my father asked me when I went to university was how much it would cost. He worried that he could not afford the fees and extra costs. I told him not to worry – I would give private tuition to fund my college expenses and not be a burden to my parents.
Is it worth the hard work and hassle? I say 100% yes. I appreciated the mind training and professional opportunities that education gave me. It was also a pleasure to study the desired course of social work and realize my dream.
Four reasons to stay on course
These days, when young people tell me that their education can be curtailed for a variety of reasons, whether to supplement family income or because they have no motivation, I sympathize with them and encourage them to persevere. They need to find ways to continue learning and focus on the long term because learning should take a lifetime.
This year, more than 40 meetings were held with more than 1,200 members of the public as part of the Review of Opportunities and Ways in Applied Education chaired by Dr. Maliki. A key development is the introduction of the new ITE curriculum structure (pictured above), which gives all students the opportunity to earn a Nitec degree, gain deeper skills relevant to the industry, and have better employment prospects.
I have met many students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who tell me that they need to work to support themselves and / or their families. My heart is to them because I know what it is. We hope that their financial situation will not affect their studies. Im, I mean, we are here for you; we will support you with the necessary resources – financial aid, academic support and more.
In principle, we will provide a stronger foundation for further enhancing knowledge and skills by making changes to the structure of ITE curricula for the selected courses I have announced in April this year; full implementation for all courses is expected by early 2026.
Let me express the concerns of students past and present and how these changes will address them:
1. “My course takes too much time.”
ITE Certificate courses typically consist of two years of National ITE Certificate (Nitec) training after two years Supreme Nitec training of four years. In line with the improved curriculum structure, ITE has streamlined its courses and introduced more training scales so that students can get their Supreme Nitec three years later. The improved curriculum structure also provides flexibility, as some students with the right abilities may need only two years.
2. “I didn’t get on the course I wanted Supreme Nitec after c Nitecso I dropped out. “
After completing them Nitec tuition, students had to re-apply for admission to Fr. Supreme Nitec programs, and some have been assigned to another area of study. Since then, ITE has streamlined Nitec and Supreme Nitec curricula so that students enrolled in ITE can unhindered their training in Nitec and Supreme Nitec levels in the same sector.
3. “I need to get started soon.”
Your ITE education will better prepare you for work. The new three-year training programs will deepen your skills and competencies and prepare you for work in a shorter period of time.
Now the two parts of the industry adaptations are combined, and the second commitment is based on the learning experience of the first. It also allows for closer mentoring by teachers in the workplace. This is a bonus that no one should miss by leaving the program early.
Don’t forget that ITE also offers working diplomas for study (WSDips), which allow our ITE graduates to study in real working conditions and gain valuable work experience and familiarity with the industry during the diploma course. WSDip graduates shared with me that the experience allowed them to go to work with more confidence and with better employment prospects.
4. “ITE for those who can’t do it.”
Such stigmas are unfounded and unfair. They undermine the coherent and meaningful efforts made by our ITE faculty to support a diverse range of students with different learning styles and personal aspirations.
ITE’s unique practice-oriented pedagogy helps N-Level and O-Level students expand their learning in programs that meet industry needs. Our ITE graduates are equipped with job-ready skills and are in demand in the industry for their technical competencies.
In addition, ITE graduates can pursue advanced training outside of the Nitec or Higher Nitec course. They may receive ITE technical diplomas and diplomas of study, while others receive polytechnic diplomas or university diplomas. Many choose to gain work experience and reconsider their study travels later in life by returning to ITE after finding out where their hobbies are to gain new qualifications, improve their career prospects or simply upgrade their skills.
ITE is a place where students gain the skills and confidence to take on a variety of job roles in the industry. It is also a place where students receive the care and guidance necessary for prosperity and growth. I have met many ITE graduates who are confident and successful in what they do and make important and significant contributions to our community.
I hope we will be able to work together as a community to support all students in advancing and implementing their aspirations, through ITE or other educational pathways. Perseverance is the key! In the future, where global competition for talent is the agenda, we strive to develop every young Singaporean talent to succeed.
A version of this commentary first appeared in Malay by Berita Haryan.