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More industry exposure & flexible curriculum for Poly & ITE students among review panel’s proposals – Mothership.SG

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More industry exposure & flexible curriculum for Poly & ITE students among review panel's proposals - Mothership.SG

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Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnic students can expect deeper exposure to industry, more flexibility in their curricula, and a stronger support system.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced several recommendations for the sector on January 7 after a year-long review of opportunities and pathways in applied education.

Gathered feedback from more than 2,000 stakeholders

The review was launched in January 2021, led by the Second Minister of Education, Maliki Othman.

“Our focus has been to better support the diverse strengths and aspirations of our Polytechnic and ITE students, preparing them for the future economy,” Al-Maliki said on January 7th.

Over 2,000 stakeholders ranging in age from students, alumni, parents, employees, industry and community partners were consulted in over 40 engagement sessions.

The review committee identified three main areas for improvement: enhancing students’ career readiness, providing more flexibility in academic pathways, and building a more integrated support system for students.

Polytechnics and ITE will gradually implement the recommendations starting from the academic year (AY) 2022.

Three-year Nitec higher qualification

MOE and ITE announced in April 2021 that ITE’s existing Nitec and High Nitec programs will be streamlined into a three-year ITE learning path.

In the first phase of implementation, the enhanced curriculum structure will be applied to eight courses of AY 2022 admission.

More courses will be transferred to the enhanced structure in later stages after 2024, after ITE has made the necessary adjustments to the curriculum after reviewing the implementation results in the first stage.

More opportunities for industry exposure

Existing Polytechnic and ITE students mainly have the opportunity to apply their skills in real-world settings in their final year of study, through their compulsory final year internship.

“The applied arts will create opportunities for students to gain additional exposure to industry, in addition to the compulsory third-year internship,” Al-Malki said.

Opportunities include job shadowing and shorter work periods during vacation periods.

Instead of one final year training, ITE students will have two industry-related (IA) facilities – a three-month IA in Year 2, followed by a six-month IA in Year 3.

Soft skills curriculum review

Al-Malki emphasized that the engagement sessions emphasized the need to enhance life skills such as understanding global perspectives, self-awareness and resilience.

The Polytechnic and ITE will enhance these non-technical skills in students and focus on the competencies they will need for life and work with a revised LifeSkills curriculum.

With future travel arrangements resuming, al-Maliki said, “We [will] Continue to target 70 percent of our tertiary institute students to participate in external exposure programmes,” as another aspect of experiential learning.

Taking more time to complete the Polytechnic Diploma

Another recommendation is to allow selected polytechnic students to spread their education over a period of more than three years, and up to five years.

This is intended to “meet the diversity of students with different strengths, interests, and learning needs,” Al-Maliki said.

This step accommodates students who wish to explore interests such as entrepreneurship or sports, as well as those who face greater academic challenges in completing their studies in three years.

In a media briefing, the Ministry of Education said this will not affect the tuition fees and government subsidies students receive.

Students will receive a reduced standard load after completing six semesters, and fees will be prorated accordingly.

Strengthening the student support system

The Polytechnic and ITE will consider supporting students more effectively by improving coordination and communication between stakeholders inside and outside the institution.

To provide timely support to students, personal tutors in Polytechnic and ITE will receive enhanced training so that they are better equipped to identify early signs of distress.

“The Polytechnic and ITE will also explore providing more time for personal tutors to check in with their students,” Al-Malki said.

Another recommendation is to enhance communication with recent graduates and provide postgraduate career guidance, including for those who are about to complete or complete full-time national service.

“This could take the form of more targeted communication, with advice on upgrading opportunities appropriate to strengths and interests to respond to the evolving labor market and economic conditions,” Al-Maliki said.

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Above image via ITE.

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