Inspiring learning through mentors
IF YOU are an established professional in fields such as languages, humanities, business, sports, or the sciences, the Ministry of Education (MOE) wants to work with you.
It wants to build a network of individuals to work with schools and link them with industries and communities on a voluntary basis, as it ramps up schools' engagement with industry partners.
Speaking at the MOE's annual work plan seminar at Ngee Ann Polytechnic yesterday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said: "We want to pool resource persons so that our schools can draw on their support to strengthen their programmes.
"When parents, teachers, and the community work together, we multiply our efforts to make every student an engaged learner."
For a start, 16 individuals and one organisation - the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star) - across seven areas are onboard the initiative.
Partners in the network, named Community of Pathfinders in Action, can plan activities such as talks, workshops, and job attachment programmes to reach out to students and their parents.
While some schools with longer histories can tap on their alumni network for the same purpose, Mr Heng noted that not all schools have the same access to such people.
"Some of our newer schools do not have strong alumni or the same profile in the community. We want to help every school and provide them with resources."
The ministry aims to have 300 partners attached to schools by the end of next year, and 1,000 individuals in the network by end-2018.
At Mayflower Secondary, which aims to build a niche area in aesthetics and effective communication programmes, principal Loo Ming Yaw said: "I'm very excited about this initiative, especially after hearing that film-maker Royston Tan is a partner as well.
"The network will expose students to different careers too."
The partners' work will complement that of the education and career guidance counsellors, who help students learn about their strengths and guide them to plan for their education and career paths.
By next month, 50 such counsellors will be deployed to schools, and the ministry will have a total of 100 of them by next year.
Film-maker Royston Tan, 39, one of the partners in the network, hopes to get students to be more hands-on under the scheme.
"I usually give talks in schools, but under this scheme I'd like to customise programmes and work with a select group of students who have an interest in the arts," he said.
He added that he hopes to get some students to shoot videos and interview their grandparents for story ideas.
Dining chain Timbre Group's co-founder and managing director Edward Chia, 31, who is also on the scheme, said he hopes to reach out to parents, too.
"It's important to build a conducive environment for children to pursue alternative routes," he said.
Mr Chia, who co-founded live music venue Timbre when he was 21, before entering university, added: "I would not be doing a lot of what I'm doing now if my parents were not supportive."
Rocket scientist Bidushi Bhattacharya, 50, who had spent years working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in United States, hopes to get students interested in science technology, engineering and mathematics through space technology development.
She said: "I hope to get students to work on a small satellite. The students, from the primary to junior college and polytechnic levels can contribute what they can."
"The younger ones can come up with ideas for the small satellite, which usually just has a single purpose, such as having a camera attached to it."