EDUCATION Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday pledged the Government's continued investment in the polytechnics, which have produced graduates with bright job prospects.
Unlike young polytechnic and university graduates elsewhere who have been unable to land jobs, nine in 10 polytechnic graduates in Singapore did so within six months of graduating last year, he said.
Referring to the latest Graduate Employment Survey figures, he noted that their gross monthly salary was $1,930 on average.
Two years ago, it was reported to be $1,871.
Mr Heng, speaking at the seventh graduation ceremony of Republic Polytechnic (RP) in Woodlands, said: 'This is one indication of the effectiveness of our polytechnics. Their practice-oriented and industry-relevant curriculum enables our students to get good jobs.'
The Government has already said it will pump up to $7 billion over the next five years into the polytechnics.
Their intakes will also be expanded. Today, 43 per cent of each Primary 1 cohort makes it to a polytechnic; in 2015, the figure will be 45 per cent.
Mr Heng also said that polytechnic education will remain affordable.
On top of the range of financial aid schemes from the Ministry of Education, he said, it was 'heartening' that other groups and individuals have pitched in to subsidise the cost of education.
For example, the Ngee Ann Kongsi yesterday gave RP $3 million, the single-largest gift that the 10-year-old polytechnic, Singapore's newest, has ever received.
The money will go towards an endowment fund, which will support up to eight scholarships; it will also fund an annual award for the top graduating student.
In his speech to 520 graduating students, accompanied by their parents and guests, Mr Heng also commended RP's problem-based learning approach. Students start by defining problems, and then go on to acquire new knowledge and skills by finding solutions as a team.
This approach has made its diploma programmes relevant even for the 107 mature learners among the graduates getting their specialist diplomas this week.
Many already hold bachelor's or master's degrees, but have still found it relevant to pursue a polytechnic diploma.
Teacher Mikael Loke, for example, will receive his specialist diploma in outdoor and adventure learning today.
The 49-year-old, who has a master's in physical education and exercise studies from Nanyang Technological University, said of his diploma: 'It gives me more specialised knowledge of the outdoors, to increase my ability and skill in carrying out physical education activities or camps outdoors.'
Some diploma holders will also get their external university degrees.
Ms Liyana Lim, 21, graduating among the top of her class with a diploma in integrated events management, will also get her external arts degree in communications and media management.
She said of studying concurrently for the degree and diploma: 'Learning about the media and events management helps me look at things from both sides of the fence.'
She is among RP's 3,930 diploma graduates from the Class of 2012; last year, RP produced 3,291 diploma graduates.