More than half of 150 teachers sent out on workplace attachments have completed stint

Kranji Secondary School teacher Bernadine Lim spent four weeks with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - More than half of the 150 teachers sent out on attachments to sectors such as manufacturing and environment since January this year have completed their stints.

The Teacher Work Attachment Plus programme was announced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) last year, with the aim of getting teachers to learn new skill sets and bring fresh perspectives to the classrooms.

The effort could now see teachers on such work exposure regularly, possibly once every five years, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday.

"There are about 100 teachers in every school. At any one point in time, can every school have one person out there, learning something new, something different?

"If we do that systematically, everyone will have a chance to do it once at least every five years," he said.

"So our aim is that every five years, everyone will have the opportunity to learn something new, learn something different, but that requires a collective effort."

MOE said about 80 teachers have completed their stints, which last between two and four weeks.

They include Kranji Secondary School teacher Bernadine Lim, who spent four weeks with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, which works on key Smart Nation projects and drives the Government's digital transformation.

The 29-year-old, who teaches geography and social studies, chose the technology field as it is a rapidly growing sector.

"As part of the stint, I had to read up and do research on what other smart cities are doing, and some of the leading-edge technologies that are currently in the research and development stage, to get a better idea of what is out there," said Ms Lim.

She has since designed a lesson package for her social studies classes, linking technological advances to the local context.

"I thought it'd be good to gain experience in something other than teaching, because this is my first job... How am I going to prepare my students for going out to work in other industries if I myself don't even know what it's like?" said Ms Lim.

Mr Chan, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of his ministry's annual workplan seminar, said the work attachment programme aims to create space for teachers' personal growth and better connect theory with practice.

He added that it will also serve to motivate students to keep learning because they can see their teachers doing the same.

"We all know our teachers work very hard... they also need to be given a break to learn something new for themselves," said Mr Chan.

He added: "When our teachers go out and collaborate with the community or other agencies, they bring back connections to the school system."

"So when they guide students on their future career choices, they will be able to speak with street cred and credibility... and the students will also find the sharing much more authentic."

Current attachment opportunities for teachers range from sectors such as aerospace and programming to sustainability and data analytics.

The subject of equipping teachers will new skill sets to support students was among topics discussed at the workplan seminar, held at the Singapore Expo, which brought together more than 1,500 school leaders and educators.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Chan said some work is needed on the part of schools to ensure teachers go on such stints regularly.

"When we plan for someone to go out for an exposure, it must be intentional – what kind of sectors will suit the individual, how much time they spend (on the attachment), who to cover the duties while they are away," he added.

"We all want to learn, and we all must make time to support each other as well."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.