The review on tertiary technical education got off to a lively start on Thursday afternoon with the first townhall meeting held to gather views from students.
Some 150 polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students attended the 90-minute session which was led by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education and seven members of the review panel. Among the issues raised by students were further education opportunities for ITE students and government subsidies for those who want to go on to take professional certification courses after completing their polytechnic or ITE studies.
In her opening speech, Ms Indranee who leads the review. highlighted the rising youth unemployment rates in several countries and said the review is aimed at future proofing Singapore youth against unemployment. Later, when speaking to the media, she admitted that one of the challenges facing the review panel is changing mindsets that a university degree is the only path to take.
The Education Ministry announced on Wednesday that altogether 98 people from business, industry and education will be involved in the review that aims to further strengthen tertiary technical education and keep it in tune with the changing economy. The group called the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review team, or Aspire for short, will be divided into a 35-member steering committee, an engagement committee to reach out to parents and other stakeholders, plus three review committees which will look into different aspects. These include improving career and academic prospects of students and strengthening links with industry.
The steering committee includes the principals of all five local polytechnics, ITE chief executive officer Bruce Poh, Singapore Institute of Technology president Tan Thiam Soon and SIM University president Cheong Hee Kiat. Also in the group are chief executive officer of Cathay Organisation Holdings Suhaimi Rafdi and Sakae Holdings founder and chairman Douglas Foo.
The committee, which will take study trips to institutions and industries in Singapore and abroad, is expected to complete its work in the second half of this year.