A former ITE student's take on what really goes on in school.
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has always been stigmatised for having the 'leftover' students and being the worst academic institution in Singapore.
In Jack Neo's 2002 movie I Not Stupid, characters referred to ITE as an acronym for "It's The End", which many believe till this date.
But I do not think the stereotype is true. As a Higher Nitec Accounting graduate from ITE College Central (and currently in Polytechnic), I would like to bust some of the misconceptions people have of ITE students.
1. There is no future for ITE students
People usually view ITE as the end of the line, where students who have flunked their 'N' and 'O' levels go to. The students are seen as "hopeless" and without a future.
But I personally view ITE as a stepping stone. Throughout my two years of Higher Nitec education, I picked up many skills, graduated with good grades and now have an extra qualification in my portfolio.
There are so many other success stories surrounding ITE graduates. For us, ITE was not the end, but instead the start of something better.
2. Students are gangsters who carry weapons and get into fights
Remember the ITE slashing incident in 2015? The aggressor had a 35cm long breadknife in his locker, and that alone caused many people to think that ITE is a dangerous place.
While it is true that ITE does spot checks and confiscates pen knives or pocket knives when found, I have not owned or seen people around me carry any sort of weapon in school. And I have never witnessed an actual fight in school before.
Sure we have rebellious students, but doesn't every school or class? Not everybody in ITE is an Ah Beng or Ah Lian, and not everyone is involved in a gang.
The pristine classroom corridors are more peaceful than you think.
3. ITE students are there not by choice
A few of my classmates, like myself, were eligible to apply for polytechnic courses with our 'O' level results, but decided to enrol in ITE due to the plethora of courses to choose from.
New schemes have also been implemented to help Secondary 4 Normal Academic students to secure their spot in polytechnics by going through ITE. They can enrol in Higher Nitec courses in ITE after their 'N' Levels, rather than taking their 'O' Levels in Secondary 5, and are guaranteed place in the relevant polytechnic course if they meet the qualifying GPA.
Our beautiful campus is filled with greenery and many facilities.
4. Students are lazy and stupid
Contrary to the idea that ITE students are unmotivated, my classmates were hard workers.
We did our assignments on time and were always challenging ourselves to be better. Hanging out with a group that wanted to do well motivated me, and the healthy competition kept me going.
Now in Polytechnic, my classmates are not as competitive. My grades are comparable to students who scored below 10 points for their L1R4, and a few of my friends from ITE have also been doing well in their respective polytechnics.
My graduating class of 2016.
5. The teachers are as "bad" as the students
With the stigma of students being lazy and slow, the teachers are also perceived negatively. But my lecturers and tutors in ITE were experienced and well-qualified.
As ITE students may take more time to learn, the teachers tend to be more patient and make the effort to learn your name and get to know you.
My teachers used to have lunch with my classmates, and we had more of a friendship than a strict student-teacher relationship. They genuinely cared for us even outside of school matters, and at times felt like a nurturing parent.
Till date, my friends and I still keep in contact with some of our teachers, and we have meetups over dinner.
The vocational institution is equipped with facilities and training centres to prepare students for the workforce.
PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/JOCELYNNA SEAH
As much as ITE still carries negative social stigma, the years I spent in ITE are some of the best of my life, and helped me to be the person I am today.
With state of the art facilities and campuses comparable to local universities, life-long friends and teachers who care, school life was never dull.
BANNER AND TEASER CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/JOCELYNNA SEAH