Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and experiences!

A memory walk done the lane

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If time permits, I often like to spend my work-free weekends walking around in different parts of Singapore. I like to walk in HDB neighbourhood areas. I also go snapping pictures on my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone if anything catches my eye.

It is 15 years or so since I last came down to Bishan Street 14. I decided to take a walk there last Saturday 31 October 2015. After buying hearing aid batteries and taking lunch at a coffeeshop at Blk 511 Bishan Street 13.

The open field near former ITE Bishan school campus site.

The open field near former ITE Bishan school campus site.

I was there taking a 2-year Certificate in Business Studies (Secretarial) course at the former Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Bishan campus, which is located at the traffic junction near Blk 190 Bishan Street 13 in July 1998 to April 2000. The building is located right next to the MOE Language Centre.

It wasn’t a happy period then because I was “demoralised” after having to accept the fact that my 1997 O-level grades were only eligible for me to enter ITE, a vocational training school for students who may be least academic inclined. I was unhappy. In fact I felt lousy. It does not help that there was a social stigma or prejudice among Singaporeans that ITE students are not well-behaved, stupid and are “destined to be a failure in life”. Remember that there was a saying that “ITE = It’s The End”?

For the first time and the last time, I once played truancy there. =P

To bring about a more positive image transformation of ITE, its Board of Governors unveiled an ITE Transformation Plan near to the end of 1990s which placed a high strategic focus on greater engagement with the public and key stakeholders to close up information gaps, and thus aimed to change Singaporeans’ perception of vocational and technical education. ITE did a quite successful re-branding exercise, re-structuring itself as a post-secondary institution.

ITE students today are perceived more positively by the general public, educators and employers.

The route to school.

The route to school.

This is the pathway in front of the school. I always walk there after exiting Bishan MRT Station and the bus interchange, and crossing the traffic junction of Bishan Street 13/14.

I couldn’t fare well in accounting and shorthand, of which are 2 core subjects. Sorry, I am just not good in numbers. As for shorthand, it is mainly due to my hearing impairment in my left ear which started to cause problems. I did not get a full ITE certificate.

After ITE, I went to serve my National Service for 2 years. Thereafter I decided to pursue my next course interest – Mass Communications. I started from the part-time foundation programme. Despite my hearing issue, I managed to clear all hurdles and proceed onto the full-time Diploma programme. And which of course, I had my hands on the diploma cert successfully!! Yeah.

In 2001, there was a plan being developed to cluster all 10 ITE schools into 3 mega campuses that will allow the institution to offer better facilities and greater choice in skills training.

There was ITE College East which is built first at Simei in 2005, followed by ITE College West in Choa Chu Kang in 2010. Then in 2013, ITE Bishan students moved to the latest mega campus building — ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio. This ITE college houses students from Bishan, Tampines, Yishun, Balestier and Macpherson campuses.

Ok. And so….can you guess which school is residing temporarily at the former ITE Bishan school site now?

St Joseph's Institution.

St Joseph’s Institution.

I only knew that SJI is residing in the ITE Bishan school campus when I walked to the school gate. It is a holding campus for the all-boys Catholic secondary school from January 2014 to December 2015.


Author: alansoh79

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