Education Minister Heng Swee Keat (left) takes a tour of the new facilities for vocational education at Metta School, with Miss Melison See (middle), Principal of Metta School, looking on.
"My students may need a longer runway, but they can do it!" said Miss Melison See, Principal of Metta School.
From 2013, two new ITE Skills Certificates (ISCs) in Baking Practices and Hospitality Services will be offered to students with special needs at Metta School. This has been made possible with the new extension block at Metta School which offers industry standard facilities that meet the requirements of an Approved Training Centre (ATC) for these two certifications.
Metta School offers special education to children aged between 7 and 21, who are diagnosed with mild intellectual disability or mild autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Students between 17 to 21-years-old undergo the Vocational Education Programme, which prepares them for the ITE Skills Certification (ISC).
Two new ITE Skills Certificates in Baking Preparation and Hospitality Services are now offered to students in Metta School.
"This expansion was in response to a growing demand for the school's established vocational education," said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat at the opening ceremony on 26 April. "The ITE-accredited vocational training programme at Metta School has enabled students with special needs to graduate with vocational qualifications and skills for successful employment", he added.
A baking kitchen, food preparation kitchen, hotel room and a serviced apartment are some of the facilities that can be found in the new extension block. A skills training room has also been prepared, to teach packing and sorting skills to students with ASD. Twenty additional classrooms will also allow the school to accommodate an additional 150 students.
Chew Ziling, 21, a student in the Baking Practices programme, shared that the previous kitchen was smaller and students would at times have a dispute over the limited equipment available. The new kitchen, on the other hand, is more similar to what she experienced at a café where she underwent on-the job training for a year.
Industry standard facilities provide an authentic learning experience and help students to adapt better when they enter the workforce.
"The industry standard facilities enable us to provide a real life and authentic learning environment. For students with special needs, having something similar to the industrial setup is very important in helping them adapt quickly and perform to the best of their abilities when they go out to work," said Mdm Salamah Bte Mohd Yusof, who has been training students in food preparation at Metta School for the past eight years.
The layout of the new food preparation kitchen is more spacious and equipped with dishwashers, ovens, woks and other machinery. The space in the kitchen also allows the teacher to cater to various groups with differing learning needs.
"Before this, we had to reorganise our timetable so that the students would be able to fulfil the required hours for the ISC," said Ms See, who explained that the school was already offering more basic ISCs for Baking, Food Preparation and Housekeeping since 2008.
With the possibility of attaining the new ITE Skills Certificate (ISC) in Baking Practices or Hospitality Services, those who do well may also apply for progression to NITEC courses at ITE College.
The new ISCs will include theory lessons, to help students further their training beyond hands-on learning. For example, the Baking Practices ISC will require students to understand the theory of baking, fundamental techniques and the importance of various ingredients, such as baking powder. With these certifications, those who do well may also apply for progression to NITEC courses at ITE College.
"The two new ISC courses give our students more choices and greater career paths," said Ms See, who hopes to uphold the school's vision of helping Metta students to lead "an independent and meaningful life".
"I want to keep learning. In future, I may want to take other courses in IT," said Ziling, who envisions herself as a pastry chef or even an IT staff in time to come.