Sending teachers on work attachments outside the education sector requires a collective effort: Chan Chun Sing
Since the Teacher Work Attachment Plus programme was rolled out at the start of 2022, about 150 teachers have been matched to roles in sectors like manufacturing, environment as well as trade and connectivity.
SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) held its first in-person work plan seminar since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday (Sep 14) to discuss priorities and innovation in education.
During the seminar, about 1,500 school leaders and teachers came together to discuss the capabilities and competencies that students will need in time to come, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing told reporters at the sidelines of the event.
He also commended the Teacher Work Attachment Plus programme which has so far matched about 150 teachers to roles in different sectors like manufacturing, environment and trade and connectivity.
The programme was rolled out in 2022, and since then, about 80 teachers have completed their attachments, said MOE in a separate statement.
Teachers can sign up for it based on their own interests and get their school principal’s endorsement before submitting their application. The work attachment period is typically between two and four weeks.
The Education Ministry will continue to work with schools to ensure that more teachers can benefit from the programme, the statement read.
The expansion of the teacher work attachment programme has a few objectives, said Mr Chan.
“I think we all know our teachers work very hard. Regularly, they also want to be given a break to learn something new for themselves. We have a saying in MOE, you cannot keep pouring from an empty cup,” he added.
Opportunities outside of the school system give teachers the credibility to guide students on their future career choices or career paths, said the Education Minister.
“During the session just now, we also have various educators who were previously from other industries who have come to join the education service, and they also bring with them a different set of experiences that can enrich the whole learning environment,” said Mr Chan.
Those who spoke during the seminar said teachers and school leadership will need to commit to spending time and management bandwidth to plan for teachers to go out on industry attachments, he noted.
“When we plan for someone to go out for exposure, it must be intentional. What kind of sectors suit the individual, how much time they spend, who to cover their duties while they are away,” said Mr Chan.
Coming out from the session, participants set an objective that every school should have at least one person “out there learning something new, something different”, he shared.
“If we do that systematically, everyone will have a chance to do it once at least every five years. Or if it’s not a long-term attachment, it can also be an ongoing partnership doing projects and things like that,” he added.
“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, means as a team, we must cover each other’s duties while someone is away to learn something new. And when that someone comes back, he or she in turn covers the duties of someone else.
“But through this process, we really hope that the teachers bring back new perspectives, new energies, not just to energise the students but also for their own personal development.”
On helping students prepare for the future, Mr Chan said the attendees also discussed how to equip teachers and educators with the capabilities to teach and facilitate students' learning.
“For example, how do we ignite the curiosity in (students) that their success is not defined by what they’ve achieved in the first 15 years in terms of academic results but really what they will achieve in the next 50 years beyond the school system where they can keep on learning,” he added.
One way is to equip teachers with new skillsets to take care of students with higher needs and their families, said Mr Chan.