SINGAPORE Polytechnic is closely linked with Singapore's success story, training and providing key technologists and professionals to run its industries at every turn of its economic development - from low-tech to high-tech and knowledge-based.
Since 2004, Singapore Polytechnic has been exporting its education model and training expertise to developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region through Singapore Polytechnic International (SPI), its exports arm.
Vietnam, which is building a pool of skilled workers for its fast-growing economy, recently engaged SPI to share Singapore Polytechnic's experience in technical education.
SPI is already working with the Department of Education and Training of Ho Chi Minh City to put in place 'a sustainable and replicable model of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)' for the country.
'The start of the training will begin with Ho Chi Minh City, with the aim of developing local expertise in TVET education that can eventually be replicated across the country,' says Ronnie Teck, SPI's business manager.
The project is supported by Temasek Foundation. Total cost is $6.5 million, with the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training footing 60 per cent of the bill. Temasek Foundation will pick up 25 per cent of the cost, while SPI contributes the remaining 15 per cent in the form of intellectual property rights.
Language was one of the main challenges SPI has to overcome in developing the project.
'Most of the Vietnamese people spoke little or no English and lecture deliverables were translated on the spot by an interpreter,' Mr Teck says. 'All the course materials were translated before commencement of the course.'
SPI also has to get used to the Vietnamese pace of work.
SPI has trained 60 staff in four TVET colleges in Ho Chi Minh City to use the curriculum model developed by Singapore Polytechnic.
The model, the Singapore Polytechnic Academic Quality Management Systems (AQMS), provides the framework for two new courses - mechatronics and information technology and media design.
'After the AQMS and the curricula have been successfully implemented, the Department of Education and Training will roll out the changes adopted by the four colleges and it will be implemented at all colleges across Ho Chi Minh City,' Mr Teck says.
The goal is to produce skilled manpower that is industry-relevant. The training and development services provided by SPI is expected to improve the course delivery and students' learning process.
'The management staff and teachers through their involvement in the project will evolve to be change agents who will in turn help other colleges to upgrade and modernise,' Mr Teck says.
The three-year project will involve 500 staff members in curriculum development, delivery and assessment. It will equip 16,000 students with new skills and knowledge.
'The long-term impact of sustainable development in TVET education is through the capability and capacity development of educational leadership, management and specialist teachers,' Mr Teck says.
This article was first published in The Business Times.