Bhagyashree Garekar, US Correspondent
Tue, Sep 25, 2007
The Straits Times
ITE wins prestigious Harvard award

WASHINGTON - SINGAPORE'S Institute of Technical Education (ITE), once derided as a last resort for under-achieving students, received an 'A' from Harvard University yesterday.

The 15-year-old institute was awarded a prestigious prize that recognises the world's most transformative government programme with profound impact on citizens' lives.

At a ceremony at the US Chamber of Commerce here, director and chief executive of ITE Bruce Poh accepted the US$100,000 (S$149,881) IBM Innovations Award in Transforming Government given by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

ITE beat four finalists shortlisted from 100 applicants from over 30 countries, including a sweeping reforms plan from Georgia; a personalised social services delivery network from Canada; and a US Department of Health programme that cut operating costs.

In a statement, Professor Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School, said: 'Singapore's ITE has created a highly sustainable model for transforming poorly performing educational institutions worldwide.'

On the eve of yesterday's presentation ceremony, Mr Poh said ITE is 'deeply honoured... Our teaching staff deserves the recognition for the transformation they have brought about in the lives of students'.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement yesterday: 'We are all very proud of ITE. ITE has developed a unique brand of education, to train students with 'thinking hands' who excel in technical vocations.

'A first-class ITE system is critical to enabling every Singaporean to maximise his potential, and participate fully in Singapore's growth and progress.

'The ITE staff and students have worked long and hard to make this vision a reality. This award shows that they are succeeding, and winning international recognition.'

Meanwhile, Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam called ITE 'the jewel in Singapore's education system', and added:

'This global award is external recognition of ITE's efforts to advance the opportunities of its students with its unique and successful 'Hands-on, Minds-on and Hearts-on' learning. It is also recognition of our educational approach that builds on Singaporeans' diverse aptitudes and talent.'

The chairman of ITE's board of governors, Mr Bob Tan, said a unique feature was its nurturing quality. 'When students come to the ITE, they have a self-image of people who cannot make it. It's a matter of raising their confidence,' he said.

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