Institutes of Technical Education
The Institute of Technical Education was established on 1st April 1992 as the replacement of the Vocational and Industrial Training Board (VITB). There are currently 10 ITE campuses grouped under two ITE colleges and 1 independent ITE college in Singapore.
ITE accepts their students based on the GCE 'O' Level Examinations results as well as the GCE 'N' Level Examinations results. ITE is often the last resort for students who cannot enter a junior college or polytechnic after their secondary school studies to further their studies. ITE students go for a two year course which by the end of it, they receive a nationally certified "National ITE Certificate". Some of the more capable ITE students go on to further their education in polytechnics and even universities.
The ITE provide three level of graduation certification (in increasing order of excellence):
- National ITE Certificate (Nitec)
- Higher National ITE Certificate (Higher Nitec)
- Master National ITE Certificate (Master Nitec)
A number of ITE students are managing well in Singapore’s workforce due to the technical and industrial skill which ITE has equipped them with, allowing them to contribute to the society.
Purpose of Institute of Technical Education
ITE was originally set up to replace the VITB, but it continues to operate with the same roles and functions. As ITE is the last stage of education for most of its students before they enter society’s workforce, ITE provides its students with technical education that is relevant to the industry. Its students take specialized courses that will equip them with the relevant skills and knowledge needed for their chosen career. Due to it being the basic foundation for skills required in the Singapore economy, ITE is the national authority and certification of skill standards in Singapore.
It’s The End?
As ITE is often the choice for students who have done miserably in their GCE 'O' or 'N' Level Examinations and have no other post-secondary institutes to go to, they have always had a reputation and association with students who are not academically bright and have bad examination results among Singaporeans.
Add this with the elitist view and social conditions of Singapore, ITE students are often looked down upon and occupy the lower end of the jobs available out in the society. A locally produced movie, “I Not Stupid”, that analysed and commented on the elitist structure of Singapore’s education system made the joke that ITE actually stands for “It’s The End”, making the point that it’s the end for students who are stuck with the option of going to ITE as they will never be able to make it in Singapore’s elitist society.
However, ITE has been trying to erase this mindset and advertising itself to have a holistic education of world class standard. While it is true that ITE students may not be academically bright as compared to their peers, they are definitely capable of working and contributing to the society.
ITE College System
The ITE College system first took root in 2000, when the existing 10 ITE campuses were grouped into two networks with 5 campuses each, ITE East (consisting of the Bedok, Bishan, MacPherson, Tampines and Yishun campuses) and ITE West (consisting of the Ang Mo Kio, Balestier, Bukit Batok, Clementi and Dover campuses). The main aim of this grouping was to provide multi-disciplinary learning and inter-campus collaboration, to achieve greater synergy and results from the learning process.
In 2001, the Prime Minister then, Mr. Goh Chok Tong, now Senior Minister, announced that the ITE College system will be taken further and the 10 campuses will be transformed into 3 regional ITE colleges, ITE College East, ITE College Central and ITE College West, operating within the same campus rather than in different ones over a fifteen year period.
The first regional campus that was built is ITE College East in Simei while the other two regional campuses are currently being built in Ang Mo Kio (ITE College Central) and Choa Chu Kang (ITE College West). Since only one regional campus has been built so far and to prevent the confusion that will occur with the splitting up of the previous ITE East and ITE West networks, the ITE East and ITE West networks are scheduled to be replaced by the ITE College Central and ITE College West respectively once the new campuses are done. As a start, the networks have changed their network names to ITE College Central and ITE College West.
Thus, currently, Singapore has three ITE regional colleges, one with its own campus, while the other two are a network of campuses that will be replaced once the other two regional campuses are built.
This initiative was taken to provide greater autonomy as well as differentiation. Greater synchronization can be achieved with the colleges being in their own campuses rather than a network of campuses spread across a region of Singapore. Each ITE college is also assigned its specialty courses on top of the basic vocational technical courses available in all three campuses, allowing greater distinctions and a broad-based education.
ITE College East
ITE College East is the only college with its own campus so far in Simei. Its campus consists of three blocks, each with its specialized field, the Administration Block, the Technological Block and the Business Block. The campus also offers state of the art sport facilities, such as a running track and sports field. The niche areas of ITE College East that distinguish it from the other two colleges are Nursing, the Life Sciences and Logistics Management.
ITE College Central
ITE College Central is meant to be the replacement for the campuses in the ITE East network (Bedok, Bishan, MacPherson, Tampines and Yishun campuses). Its new campus will be in Ang Mo Kio. The specialized fields of ITE College Central which differ it from the other two colleges are meant to be Wafer Fabrication and Digital Media Technology.
ITE College West
ITE College West is scheduled to overtake the campuses in the ITE West network (Ang Mo Kio, Balestier, Bukit Batok, Clementi and Dover campuses). Its new campus is being built in Choa Chu Kang and its core competencies are Precision Engineering, Automotive and Chemical Process Technology.