By Office of Strategic Planning & Academic Quality
Over 500 NIE faculty and staff gathered for the Director’s Address 2017 on 28 August 2017. The annual event serves as a platform for NIE Director, Prof Tan Oon Seng to share institutional plans for the year ahead, while celebrating the achievements of the NIE community.
In this year’s speech, Prof Tan highlighted the Institute’s continuing focus on enhancing quality, innovativeness and impact. For NIE to remain relevant and competitive in an evolving landscape, the Institute must continue to be future-oriented and embrace innovative thinking and practices. He also announced that five Strategic Taskforces have been formed to help to co-create a strategic roadmap for a “future-ready NIE” by 2022.
Prof Tan opened this year’s address by paying a special tribute to the former NIE Director Prof Lee Sing Kong, who passed away on 19 May 2017. He took the opportunity to announce the Lee Sing Kong Endowment Fund, established to honour Prof Lee’s contributions towards teacher education in Singapore.
As an integral part of the Singapore education system, Prof Tan reiterated the importance of NIE’s unique role in upholding and raising the overall quality of the teaching profession in Singapore. He highlighted the six attributes of a successful teacher — calling, care, courage, character, creativity and camaraderie — and paid special mention to the NTU-NIE Everest Team comprising Ms Nur Yusrina Ya’akob, Mr Jeremy Tong and Dr Saravana Pillai Arjunan. As a team, they exemplified the true meaning of courage and camaraderie in Ms Yusrina’s successful summit of Mt Everest.
Acknowledging that teachers today face a steep learning curve amidst fast-evolving learner needs, Prof Tan used the acronyms “MAD” and “BIIIG” to emphasise the importance of developing teachers and graduates with multiple perspectives, a proper sense of reality, ability to see “the big picture,” grit (resilience), and the penchant to embrace learning by innovation, inquiry, immersion and imagination. He encouraged NIE staff to work even more closely with the schools to enhance the impact of NIE’s pedagogies, research and programmes.
Prof Tan underscored the need for the Institute to continue to be future-oriented and to embrace innovative thinking and practices. He mentioned the launch of the Singapore Teaching Practice (STP) at the 7th biennial Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference in May 2017. The STP would allow teachers and practitioners to examine their professional practice, and tailor pedagogies to different student profiles.
Riding on Singapore’s Skills Future initiative, NIE is offering more courses in stackable modules and with the aid of innovative technology to afford more flexibility and autonomy to adult learners in our professional development and executive programmes. Prof Tan also mentioned the setting up of a National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC), which will serve as a centralised training institute for pre-school teachers based on the successful formula of NIE.
A great institute is one that is built on legacy, people and future orientation. To stay relevant and maintain our impact, Prof Tan underlined the importance of institutional renewal and planning. In recent years, NIE has put in place schemes and improvements to boost staff development and recognition, such as enhancing the faculty appraisal system and the Lecturer/Research Scientist track. He promised that the Institute is committed to developing our own “stars” and boosting the crop of potential leaders at the Institute. Resources are also being committed to create more collaborative learning and working spaces on the campus.
To take NIE forward into its next lap of progress, Prof Tan announced that five Strategic Taskforces have been formed to help to co-create a strategic roadmap towards a “future-ready NIE” by the
In his closing remarks, Prof Tan reiterated the important role every staff member plays in contributing to the continued success of Singapore’s education system and encouraged everyone to uphold the NIE “We can!” spirit in all that we do.