NIE Heritage: A Walk Down Memory Lane
History of Teacher Education and NIE's Evolution and Progress
Up to the beginning of the Second World War, the provision of teacher education in Singapore was on a small and ad hoc basis. It developed in spurts in response to short-term manpower needs.
With the expansion in school enrolment at the end of the War, an unprecedented need for teachers was created. The training of teachers on a long-term and organised basis was imperative. This led to the establishment of the Teachers' Training College (TTC) in 1950, which conducted certificate courses in Education for non-graduates.
A School of Education was established in the same year at the then University of Malaya (which later became the University of Singapore) to train graduates for teaching on a full-time basis. Those who completed this training were awarded a Diploma in Education.
In December 1971, the School of Education was closed and TTC became the only institution responsible for teacher training. It entered into a new relationship with the University of Singapore, whereby besides certificate courses, it also prepared graduate students for both the professional Diploma in Education as well as postgraduate degrees in Education.
On 1 April 1973, the Institute of Education (IE) was established from the TTC. Besides the 2-year full-time Certificate in Education programme for non-graduates, IE offered a 1-year full-time Diploma in Education programme for graduates. In addition, a part-time teaching cadetship scheme was launched. This teaching cadetship offered a 18-month Diploma in Education and a 3-year Certificate in Education. Students on this scheme juggled their time between teaching in schools and studying.
In 1980, the teaching cadetship scheme was replaced by the full-time teacher-in-training scheme. IE moved from its Paterson Road grounds to its Bukit Timah Campus in 1981. The College of Physical Education (CPE) was set up in July 1984 at IE to train specialist teachers in physical education. It functioned as an autonomous college and conducted a 2-year Diploma in Physical Education programme for both graduates and non-graduates.
In 1990, in preparation for the formation of the present NIE, the certificate and diploma programmes at IE and CPE were upgraded to diploma and postgraduate diploma levels for non-graduates and graduates respectively. Also for the first time, training of graduates to teach in primary schools was introduced through a 1-year Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Primary) (PGDE) programme.
On 1 July 1991, both IE and CPE were merged to form NIE. NIE was also established as an institute of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) when it was reconstituted from the former Nanyang Technological Institute on the same day. As part of the University, new 4-year degree courses were offered to matriculated students. These courses, Bachelor of Arts with Diploma in Education and Bachelor of Science with Diploma in Education, imparted both knowledge and skills in Arts, Science or Physical Education to trainee teachers as well as pedagogy.
NIE opened with the School of Arts, School of Science, School of Education, School of Physical Education and a Centre for Applied Research in Education (CARE). The 4-term academic year structure was first changed to the 3-term structure adopted by NTU. Then modularisation of the pre-service and full-time in-service programmes was initiated. At the same time, courses in the degree programme were validated by specialist advisors from British universities.
In July 1992, the Teaching of Computing and the Teaching of Computer Applications were added for the PGDE programme and NIE started to offer postgraduate programmes leading to the award of Master's and PhD degrees.
In 1993, a pilot "Programme for National Awareness" (PNA) was mounted. The Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching in Higher Education programme and a Mentoring scheme in the Diploma in Educational Administration (DEA) programme were also introduced. In the same year, the School of Physical Education was appointed to run the Singapore Olympic Academy, and also as a centre for conducting international certification of Health and Fitness courses for the American College of Sports Medicine. In 1994, NIE switched to the Academic Unit System comprising two semesters.
The degree programme was modified to prepare secondary school teachers from July 1995. At the same time, 2 types of Honours courses were offered: the fifth-year honours and the twin track fourth-year honours. CARE was reorganised and renamed the NIE Centre for Educational Research (NIECER) and the Principals' Executive Centre was established.
Several new courses were introduced in 1996 and early 1997: the Diploma in Home Economics and Diploma in Art Education courses, and the Master of Arts in Applied Psychology and Educational Management courses. In June 1997, PNA was replaced by a new, compulsory "Programme for National Education" for all trainee teachers.
With rapid advances in the area of information technology (IT), NIE upgraded its computer network. NIE was also in the Ministry of Education's Information Technology Steering Committee and NIE staff were involved in other initiatives of the Ministry. NIE had also drawn up its own masterplan for the effective infusion and integration of IT into the institute's curricula. In the long run, NIE aims not only to offer courses that teach the integration of IT in the school curriculum subjects but also to conduct courses in an IT-integrated teaching and learning environment, and to undertake research to develop more effective IT incorporated teaching-learning models.
In view of the emphasis on creativity and critical thinking skills, NIE hosted the 7th International Conference on Thinking in June 1997. In the same month, the Dean of School of Education visited the United Kingdom with a Ministry of Education study team to study British efforts to reform teacher education. Then in September 1997, Director, NIE and the Deans of the Schools visited Canada and USA to look at recent developments in teacher education and noted that NIE's major directions were consistent with those of major American and Canadian institutions. In some areas, NIE's programmes were more advanced.
A Special Training Programme (Mother Tongue) to train 'O' level holders was introduced in July 1997. In December 1997, the degree programme was revised to offer separate tracks to prepare teachers for primary and secondary teaching with effect from Academic Year 1998/99.
NIE regards the initial teacher training and in-service training as part of a continuum covering different stages of a teacher's career. There are formal programmes leading to advanced professional qualifications as well as a cluster of modules which allows teachers to work towards the award of an in-service diploma (e.g. Pastoral Care and Career Guidance, Learning Support Co-coordinators and Physics Teaching).
From July 1998, NIE introduced two new courses: Supervisory and Curriculum Management Skills for Subject and Level Heads, and Mentoring and Developmental Supervision for Senior Teachers.
In June 1998, the Singapore Centre for Teaching Thinking was established. The Centre aims to provide and support high quality teaching, research and consultancy services to schools and other educational institutions in Singapore and the region, on projects and research related to infusing the teaching of creative and critical thinking into content instruction.
In January 1999, 3 new Master's degree programmes were introduced. They were the Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology, Master of Education in Mathematics Education and Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Studies. A new Diploma in Early Years Teaching programme was also launched. This programme is specifically designed to train teachers of nursery and kindergarten children to be competent as decision-makers with the responsibility for independently planning and implementing programmes of relevant activities in pre-school centres.
A corporate review and planning process was instituted in NIE in 1999 to undertake a comprehensive study of its role in the provision of foundation training for trainee teachers and professional upgrading and continual training for serving teachers, and to adapt its overall corporate support system to create the necessary environment for it to deliver quality programmes, research and consultancy services to schools.
From Academic Year 2000/2001, a revised organisational structure, based on a 'matrix' model, was adopted in NIE. The new structure is 'programme-driven'. Instead of being organised into faculties/schools along the lines of the traditional structure in other institutions of higher learning, NIE is organised according to the types of programmes it provides.
The four major thrusts of NIE under the new structure are Initial Teacher Preparation Programmes, Graduate Programmes and Research, Academic Computing and Information Services and Corporate Planning and Development. Deans have been appointed to look after the Initial Teacher Preparation Programmes and Graduate Programmes and Research areas of responsibility. Academic Computing and Information Services and Corporate Planning and Development are headed by Divisional Directors. The teaching staff of NIE are organised into Academic Groups, each reflecting a major area of study which may be inter- or multi-disciplinary in scope, undertaken by the Institute. A Dean (Academic) has been appointed to assist the Director in overseeing the operations of these Academic Groups.
NIE has developed a framework for continual education to facilitate and encourage professional upgrading at all levels within the teaching profession. This framework would guide NIE on the implementation of the various in-service programmes which will not only update and upgrade teachers in pedagogy and content but also provide them with the opportunity to gain higher educational qualifications through an accreditation system.
A Brief History of the Old Bukit Timah Campus
NIE was formally located in the posh district of Bukit Timah in central Singapore, about 20 km from the main NTU campus at Yunnan Gardens in Jurong. Bukit Timah Campus is the cradle of tertiary education in Singapore. It started out as Raffles College, a college of Arts and Science, in 1929.
Before the battle for Singapore in February 1942, thousands of refugees from mainland Malaya were billeted in hastily constructed dormitories. When the British forces surrendered, the Japanese moved their headquarters from the Ford Works Factory here. It was used by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. The British forces returned after the Japanese surrender and Raffles College was reopened in October 1946.
In October 1949, Raffles College and King Edward VII College of Medicine merged to form the University of Malaya. When Malaya achieved its independence in August 1957, it was renamed as University of Malaya (Singapore Division) while its sister campus in the capital of Malaya was renamed as University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur Division). In 1960, the Governments of Singapore and Malaya decided that the Singapore Division and Kuala Lumpur Division of University of Malaya should separate to form national universities in their respective countries.
In January 1962, the University of Singapore was established. In August 1980, the campus became the joint campus for the National University of Singapore (NUS) following the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University. NUS moved to Kent Ridge in 1981.
IE moved into the campus in 1982.
Yunnan Garden Campus
In December 2000, NIE shifted into its new, state-of-the-art, S$400 million campus on the NTU grounds.