Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A SEASON OF FIRSTS « Singapore

A SEASON OF FIRSTS « Singapore by SHERALYN TAY



This apprehension, thankfully, did not last, as Passu started a month-long introduction to information technology (IT) in school that very year as part of his Grade 9 curriculum. From then on, IT was to open vistas for the 26-year-old in both his professional and personal life.
As an IT teacher at Bajothang High School, Passu is among a pioneering batch of educators who have undergone a three-year IT enabling programme started by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). “I was lucky to be in the first batch to be trained in 2004,” he said. “It was a three-year training course divided into five (six-month long) phases that included basic training and application in education.”
Passu’s visit to Singapore from 1 to 5 February this year was part of the Bhutan W.I.R.ED (“Weaving Infotech Resources in Education”) project, cofunded by the Temasek Foundation and the SIF. This three-year collaboration with Bhutan’s Ministry of Education and the Royal University of Bhutan aims to help develop the capacity of Bhutan’s educational system in employing IT for learning and living in the 21st century.
“We don’t need to rely on textbooks and chalkboards; IT has changed how we teach.”
Passu told Singapore that he felt “fortunate” to start his IT exposure early and to have been able to further his proficiency when he trained to be an IT teacher. It’s the new wave, he said, and an essential way for Bhutan to progress. “We don’t need to rely on textbooks and chalkboards; IT has changed how we teach,” he explained. “With IT, it is more interactive. We can show instead of just tell. We can entertain as we educate, and students are more excited about learning.”
This appetite for learning is not limited to his students. Passu himself is on a dedicated and continued journey to grow his IT expertise. His five-day learning visit to Singapore was very useful, he said, as he learnt about new applications for IT in education, such as SharePoint, Google documents and Googlesites. He has also expanded his horizons in other ways. “It’s my first time flying by airplane, coming to Singapore, seeing tall buildings, and riding on the MRT!” he said with a grin.
His Singapore experience has inspired him, he said. “The Singapore education system, school and country as a whole seem to us like something from the future. On top of education and infocomm and technology training, we were overwhelmed by the transportation system, cleanliness, civic sense of the people, and the food. We even observed how we would walk down many streets and come back indoors and find not a fragment of dust. If Bhutan has to develop, Singapore could be our vision!”


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