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Institute Of Technical Education’s (ITE) Main Challenge: Eradicating Stereotypes

Singapore’s technical educational institutions must continue to stay relevant and responsive in an increasingly competitive global environment, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday” (SM Goh: ITE Must Stay Relevant, My Paper Report).

The new report “SM Goh: ITE Must Stay Relevant” (January 21, 2011) reiterates two important perspectives: first, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has a proven, positive track record of producing skilled technical graduates; and second, that this momentum has to be enhanced and furthered. Technical education is an oft-neglected and overlooked element of Singapore’s education system; but in reality produces competent individuals with work-ready abilities, or outstanding graduates seeking advancement in education. It is a much-needed commitment from the administration to provide funds, support and investment so as to create an impetus for the ITE not to rest on its laurels.

However, despite developments in pedagogic approaches and infrastructural improvements – resulting in greater quality of education and heightened global recognition – the ITE’s main challenge lies in the proliferation of stereotypes that are associated with its institution, students and teaching-learning processes. These perceptions and stigmas – that ITE students are academically lazy and stupid, untalented drop-outs et cetera – are detrimental, because they may prove to be substantial deterrents for potential students who fear these labels. More importantly, they are gross insults that undermine the commitment and professionalism of the lecturers and educators who have been instrumental in the curriculum and development of students.

Statistically, the institution has done respectably well in terms of equipping graduates with relevant skills to land employment opportunities speedily and appropriately, as well as to upgrade students effectively in preparation for their polytechnic education. Anecdotally, I have been in interaction and conversation with an assortment of individuals with an ITE background, and have witnessed first-hand their various capabilities and journeys of growth. The ITE administration should be proud to constantly highlight these experiences, and work to justify its image and prominence.

This can be done with augmented transparency in its teaching-learning programmes, and increasing interactions with students from other institutions to exchange classroom insights. Even though many ITE students are not academically-inclined, they have tremendous talents in vocational aspects, and work equally hard – if not harder – as their counterparts in the institutes of higher learning. Many of them are skilled in their crafts and knowledgeable in technical intricacies; hence, the demand for their services and expertise remain consistently high in a plethora of industries and sectors.

These pre-employment training are relatively recession-immune, given the high and constant demand for their services in good times and bad. By highlighting these facts on stability and utility, coupled with increased promotion of ITE’s industry-based training and regional-international collaborations, the institution would go a long way in changing sentiments and construed observations rightfully.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


14 thoughts on “Institute Of Technical Education’s (ITE) Main Challenge: Eradicating Stereotypes

  1. Sorry but I think the stereotype problem is largely out of ITE’s control. It exists because of the streaming system. People hold those stereotypes because they assume that being streamed into the ‘technical’ stream says something about your intelligence and skills.

    Posted by twasher | January 28, 2011, 12:49 pm
    • No need for apologies; I don’t think I could have phrased it any better. You’ve made a poignant point that stereotypes (along with generalisations) need to be addressed; hence educators (through NIE and MOE) and parents (through individual institutions) have to re-engineer their mentalities to prevent them from having these biased perspectives.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | January 28, 2011, 4:00 pm
  2. was watching history/discovery channel. The Audi car manufacturing plant in Germany – their technicians and mechanics. They are very professional. Not only do they seem at ease with their labour/manual status but they take pride in it. And my perception is that the German people/society hold them in regards and respect as part of their society.

    i assume and believe they are accorded good pay and reasonable working condition.

    And they value their senior (silver haired elder technicians) !

    1) are these german technicians our ITE graduate counterpart?
    2) how can we inculcate a sense of respect and esteem for our home grown true blue singaporean blue collar workers?

    ITE will have arrived when we have the German standard.

    Posted by radlife66 | January 28, 2011, 4:22 pm
    • Good questions; it’s not just about imparting the skills and knowledge, it’s about having pride and esteem for what one does. At the end of the day, it is not what you do for your career; it is how you go about your endeavours and commitments that matters (in my opinion). ITE can certainly aspire to educate and prepare its students for the latter.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | January 28, 2011, 11:25 pm
      • I am a graduate from ITE college East Higher Nitec in Mechanical Engineering. I personally feels that ITE had done its part by providing quality education. In recent years, the quality of ITE student have improved alot too, many of my classmates in ITE actually did quite well in their O-level, many of them score around 15 points or some even lower, their ended up in ITE only because they miss Poly math or english grade by 1 point.

        In ITE, my classmates are all very competitive people, thus my days in ITE was not easy as long as i want to constantly stay among the top(Getting A and DIST as there is moderation). I graduated from there in 2012 April with a GPA of 3.881 out of 4.

        I need to stress that there are not more gangster or joker in ITE generally, and even there are many of them usually drop out within three months, as there is not place of them in ITE

        Posted by Tan Wen JIe | July 22, 2012, 2:19 am
      • I think that is wonderful, and am sure that many share your sentiments as well. These perspectives go a long way in eradicating unfair stereotypes which might have been perpetuated.

        Jin Yao

        Posted by guanyinmiao | July 23, 2012, 12:06 pm
      • Those who are good are the top 5% in ITE.
        THe remaining are … don’t care what will happen tomo….and too lazy to care. My dept in ITE accept the lowest 10%….a class of 40….only 5 want study…only 1 can really study. Remaining 20 students come to escape NS and nothing to do at home anyway, in school has friends…remaining always absent….but all still will get the cert….well, it is our KPI….so lousy attitude, no skill, cannot think….but still get cert in the end….so the cert basically worth nothing…..but don’t worry, the parents will feed them…until pass away…the they will (or maybe still will not) start to think and get a job….The fact…TRUTH HARD FACT is they don’t want a future so be it…..they deserve it…..many opportunities given to them but they just don’t care…..hopeless people

        Posted by hopeless | August 20, 2012, 5:59 pm
      • Are you speaking from personal experience, or anecdotal perspectives? I cannot ascertain the accuracy of your observations.

        Jin Yao

        Posted by guanyinmiao | August 20, 2012, 6:24 pm
  3. In my opinion, as our economic develop it is essential for singapore to have her own fleet of skilled worker. With automation technology increasing usage and gradually eliminating manual worker, the demand for highly skilled technicial would grow.

    With the “World factory” increasing manpower cost, it may be one day more sensible for production line to be set in developed country like singapore through setting up highly automated factory.

    Many countries in europe such as Holland employed such technology. I just read from the newspaper how this was made possible by Philips.

    This plant is located in a contryside of Holland. In this factory only small number of highly skilled technicial were stationed to manage the robots. This technical are actually trained by technology institutions similar to our ITE. I think that ITE graduate would gradually gain respect like our european counterpart.

    With the increase in productivity per worker, salary are expect grow for these technicial. With the increase in pay, ITE would attract better and better quality student.

    Posted by ITE graduate | August 26, 2012, 11:59 pm
  4. Lastly, I would like to say those small number of bad students in ITE would very soon pay their price. Bear in mind the singaporean economy is changing, developing into skill and knowleage based economy. Those with low and no skills would have difficulties surviving.

    Posted by ITE graduate | August 27, 2012, 12:05 am


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