A student engagement centre was launched at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East campus yesterday, with a similar centre to be opened at ITE College West by the year end.
Such centres may be expanded to polytechnics in the future.
Youth Space is equipped with a 3D printer, iPads and robotics equipment.It is part of an initiative by self-help group Yayasan Mendaki, in collaboration with ITE, to engage students and help them develop the skills they need for the future, beyond the school curriculum.
Besides giving students a place to relax in between lessons and after school, the space facilitates workshops that allow students to learn coding and participate in online learning, among other things. The rationale is to allow students easier access to educational programmes and developmental activities such as coaching and mentoring that can prepare them for the workforce.
The initiative was launched in October 2015, with the first Youth Space opening in ITE College Central. To date, it has recorded more than 22,000 walk-ins.
The Youth Space at ITE East piloted last year with students being invited to join community outreach programmes such as "meals on wheels", where about 48 students delivered food to the elderly.
Separately, more than 30 students participated in a Toa Payoh Trail programme, where they explored the neighbourhood and brainstormed ways to improve it.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information and chairman of Yayasan Mendaki, officiated the launch at ITE College East. He said: "It's an important step by Mendaki to get closer to our ITE students as we know that they are going to participate in the new economy, and therefore we want to ensure we can work with ITE to help our students be future-ready."
The centre is open to all students regardless of race or background. "This will enhance integration of our students," Dr Yaacob noted.
He added that the Youth Space is a safe place for students to relax and also learn things at their own pace. "The key is lifelong learning, so that they get interested to pick up things on their own."
Since the ITE College East Youth Space started preliminary operations in October last year, it has recorded 6,790 walk-ins, with students sometimes chatting with mentors from Mendaki.
Mr Muhammad Fayiz Mohamed Liacataly, 19, was among them. He visits the centre almost every day. "Instead of hanging around outside school, I come here with my friends. We can chat and I can talk to the mentors about personal things."