SINGAPORE: Sixteen school counsellors from the one-year Diploma in School Counselling programme at the National Institute of Education (NIE) graduated on Tuesday (Jul 2).
The newly trained professionals can now join school staff and work alongside teachers, helping students who face problems to succeed in their studies.
As part of the diploma programme, trainees studied developmental issues in the childhood and adolescence stages, and learned how to counsel students in a group setting.
They were also required to complete a 10-week clinical practicum, during which they could apply theories and skills picked up during course work to actual counselling settings.
One of the graduates, 27-year-old Michelle Lee, worked in an agency where she counselled adult offenders for two years before making the switch to school counselling.
She realised there was a need to look at factors such as early intervention to tackle issues that may surface at a younger age.
“Counselling adult offenders made me realise that problems often arise earlier in life. So I want to help youth to address challenges before they escalate or become chronic," said Ms Lee.
For Mr Andy Png, his pursuit of a career in school counselling came after five years in the Singapore Navy and nine in the real estate industry.
Being a school counsellor had always been "at the back of (his) mind", said the 38-year-old, who has been posted to West View Primary School.
“We are always looking at children who excel academically. But right now, there are also children who are in need,” said Mr Png.
“As counsellors, we are the ones who will step up and listen to them when there is no one to listen to them.”
Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah attended the Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony, which was held at Nanyang Technological University.
In her speech, she told the 465 graduates that as educators, they would encounter a diverse group of students, and emphasised the importance of understanding these students' diverse strengths and weaknesses.
“What this means is that you will need to understand each and every student in your classroom, be able to respond to their different needs and help each student – and sometimes their parents – to understand that in our system, there are multiple pathways and many opportunities, and they should choose what is best suited for each individual," said Ms Indranee.
A total of 975 new and returning teachers will be graduating from NIE this year.
The second NIE Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony will be held on Wednesday.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that aspiring school counsellors could previously only train at NIE at the Masters level. NIE has clarified that this is incorrect.