Thu, Jan 24, 2008
Higher Learning Special, The New Paper
Shake-shake here, shake-shake there... a cool drink is born

School D'Hospitality

A FULLY stocked bar can't be anybody's idea of a classroom.

But that is where Mongolian teenager Haley Otgonbat Khaliun (main head picture) is doing her learning, amid bottles full of colourful wines and spirits.

The curriculum for her diploma in hospitality management from the School D'Hospitality includes bartending and learning about proper bar set-up, different types of alcohol, drink presentation and service tips.

Her bar lesson, however, was not conducted at the school's Upper Boon Keng Road campus, but at the office of a private alcoholic beverage company.

The highly interactive lesson saw Haley shaking things up. Under the watchful eyes of the company's trainer, she mixed her own concoction in a cocktail shaker and served it up in a martini glass.

Said Haley, 19, with a smile: "You really need a lot of energy to shake the cocktails because after a while, your hands get cold and numb, and the shaker gets heavy."

The full-time course's emphasis on hands-on learning is evident from Haley's curriculum.

In one year, students spend six months on academic studies and the remaining six on an industrial attachment or project work.

Haley came to Singapore last year to learn English at Shines Education Centre, which, like the School D'Hospitality, is under the Shines Education group.

When she found out about the diploma course, which started last November, it seemed just right for her as she wanted to "provide good service and meet new people".

She now wants to get her diploma, then an advanced diploma and a degree at the school before returning to Mongolia to work as a hotel manager. "I would like to raise Mongolian hospitality to world-class standards," she said.

Course mate Pramod Shresthn, 27, a Nepalese, enrolled because of his passion for the tourism industry.

He worked at the concierge desks of hotels in Nepal for six years, but wanted to back up his experience with paper qualifications.

So when a friend told him about the course, he decided to pay the $7,600 needed for it out his own savings.

But unlike Haley, he wants to work here once he gets his diploma and degree.

Said Pramod: "I would like to develop my career as a food and beverage manager in a restaurant or hotel here. I think Singapore has a bright future in tourism."

Singaporean student Shawn Tan, 29, said: "I believe the hospitality course will increase my chances of getting a better job."

The school was set up by Mr Chia Tuck Keong, and was registered last September.

The former civil servant, who used to be based in Shanghai and Beijing, said: "Given the Singapore Government's efforts to boost the hospitality sector, I think our graduates will be in great demand."

The school's hospitality programmes also include degree courses.

Areas of study include leisure and tourism management, hospitality management, hotel operations, food and beverage operations and events management.

The school's tie-up with the Switzerland-based European University Centre for Management Studies for all its programmes is another draw, said Mr Chia.

Mixing drinks aside, the hands-on approach is something Haley enjoys.

She said: "Our teacher even promised to take us out for a fine-dining meal soon, so I'm looking forward to that.

"Over here, it's not just book-based learning. Our lecturer uses a lot of real-life examples and that helps us."

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