New NIE director appointed, to take over in July

Professor Tan Oon Seng, 56, will be the new director of the National Institute of Education (NIE), from July 1 this year, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which NIE is part of, has announced. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
Professor Tan Oon Seng, 56, will be the new director of the National Institute of Education (NIE), from July 1 this year, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which NIE is part of, has announced. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION

Professor Tan Oon Seng, 56, will be the new director of the National Institute of Education (NIE), from July 1 this year, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which NIE is part of, has announced.

Prof Tan, who has been the dean of teacher education at NIE since 2008, will be taking over the position from Professor Lee Sing Kong, 62, who will relinquish his appointment on June 30 after holding office for more than seven years since November 2006.

Prof Tan, who is also an NTU professor renowned for his work in cognitive psychology and problem-based learning, started his career as a teacher in 1983 and rose through the ranks to become a vice-principal in 1991. He joined Temasek Polytechnic as a lecturer in 1992, before going to NIE as an associate professor in 2001. At NIE, he headed the psychological studies academic group from 2003 to 2008.

He said: "As an advocate for the strengthening of the calling and scholarship of the teaching profession, I believe NIE is poised for exciting opportunities."

NTU president Bertil Andersson said in a statement on Wednesday: "NTU is proud to have had Prof Lee helm the NIE through these crucial years. Under Prof Lee's leadership, NIE has achieved an outstanding reputation as a leading teacher education institution in the world. He has made invaluable contributions and launched many key initiatives that have greatly impacted teacher education in Singapore and abroad."

Prof Lee played a key role in establishing the International Alliance of Leading Education Institutes in 2007 with seven other leading education institutions in the world.

Under his leadership, NIE undertook a review of teacher education programmes in partnership with the Ministry of Education and schools, in line with the revised national curriculum. It was also under his stewardship when the 21st-century teacher education model was launched in 2009 to develop teachers with the relevant skills for classrooms today.

Prof Lee was also instrumental in implementing new teaching methods and transforming NIE's tutorial rooms to become more conducive for collaboration, to meet the changing needs of the education system.

He received the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2011 for his contributions to Singapore's teaching education system. He is also the first Singaporean to receive the Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest honour given by the Teachers College, Columbia University, last year.

Prof Lee said: "The best teacher is one who can inspire the heart of every student, and through this, change their lives not only in the classroom but beyond. I wish to thank everyone in the NIE family who had helped lay such a foundation in the heart of every student teacher, such that when they graduate from NIE, they can be the best teachers to their students."

On his successor, Prof Lee said: "I have known Oon Seng as a dedicated leader whose passion in teacher education knows no bounds. I am confident that he will bring NIE to a new height as an Institute of Distinction."

Prof Lee will continue being professor of biological sciences at NTU.

Suceeding Prof Tan as dean of teacher education is Associate Professor Liu Woon Chia, 46, who is currently the associate dean of practicum and school partnerships.

Among other key leadership changes is the appointment of Professor Paul Teng, 64, the current dean of graduate studies and professional learning, as NIE's principal officer when Dr Quek Jin Jong, 67, retires from NIE in July.

Professor Christine Goh, 55, who is currently associate dean of higher degrees in graduate studies and professional learning, will assume Prof Teng's position in July.