More access to career guidance for JC, secondary school students

More counsellors, welfare officers to be appointed to help them navigate changing education, jobs landscape

Students at National Junior College last year. Starting from next year, junior colleges will each have one education and career guidance counsellor, while there will be one counsellor for every two secondary schools - up from a ratio of one counsello
Students at National Junior College last year. Starting from next year, junior colleges will each have one education and career guidance counsellor, while there will be one counsellor for every two secondary schools - up from a ratio of one counsellor for four schools now. LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Students in secondary schools and junior colleges will have greater access to career guidance from next year to help them better handle the fast-changing education and jobs landscape.

This comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to greater uncertainties in career prospects and job opportunities, especially for fresh graduates.

The junior colleges will each have one education and career guidance counsellor, while there will be one counsellor for every two secondary schools.

This is up from a ratio of one counsellor for four schools currently, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

He was speaking in a video addressed to educators in commemoration of Teachers' Day today.

The number of student welfare officers in schools will also be doubled to better help vulnerable students. They support teachers and work with other school staff and community partners to strengthen the safety net, as well as address barriers to school attendance and learning for at-risk students.

The increase in career counsellors and welfare officers will be implemented in phases, starting from January. Staff in both these roles fall under the umbrella of allied educators.

To provide the different groups of allied educators with more opportunities for progression, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it will also increase the number of middle-and senior-level positions.

This is also to nurture various domain expertise and strengthen professional leadership.

Over the next few years, there will also be "a significant number" of master teachers who will be posted to schools, the ministry announced.

Master teachers spend their time on policy and coordination work at the national level and are now primarily based in MOE headquarters, though they also spend time on school attachments to keep up with class practices and developments on the ground.

They "foster a teacher-led culture of professional excellence in our teaching fraternity", said MOE.

Mr Wong said: "(Master teachers) play a critical role in sharing effective teaching practices in the classroom, prototyping new teaching methodologies and supporting policy and programmatic work related to teaching and learning at the national level."

He noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown the importance of being able to adapt and innovate pedagogical practices.

The eventual goal is to post more than 100 master teachers to schools to teach classes on a sustained basis, said Mr Wong.

 
 
 

They will spend most of their time on teaching in the classrooms, co-planning and co-teaching lessons with fellow teachers, and leading professional development committees within the school and also at cluster and zonal levels.

Mr Wong said the initiative is "a significant move, signalling our commitment to strengthen the teaching track, and our continued investments to create a quality teaching workforce as the backbone of our education system".

These teachers will be posted with effect from January, and the numbers will be ramped up over time.

Mr Wong also noted that with the implementation of blended learning - a mix of classroom and digital learning - and the National Digital Literacy Programme, schools' information and communications technology (ICT) capabilities will need strengthening.

Such capabilities will be recognised as a core part of schools' administrative teams, and MOE will enhance career development opportunities for ICT administrative staff, with chances for some to contribute at the cluster level.

The ministry will also increase the ICT partner-to-school ratio and provide a team to support the roll-out of personal learning devices for students, which will start for secondary school students next year.

Mr Wong said: "Our schools today are multifaceted communities because that is what it takes to nurture our students holistically.

"It takes people with different skills - teachers, allied educators, education and career guidance counsellors - all working together towards a common goal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2020, with the headline 'More access to career guidance for JC, secondary school students'. Print Edition | Subscribe