Published: 11 February 2022
Commissioner of Prisons, Ms Shie Yong Lee,
Executive Director for the Reintegration Group at Yellow Ribbon Singapore, Ms Rosanna Yam
Deputy Principal of ITE College Central, Mr Chong Leong Fatt,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. A very good morning to everyone! I am very happy to be part of the graduation ceremony of the first batch of 29 graduands from the NITEC in Business Services Programme.
Importance of Employment in Reducing Recidivism
2. Over the years, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) have focused their efforts on upskilling inmates while they are in prison. Through such efforts, we hope to help our inmates improve their employment prospects and start them on their new life ahead.
The NITEC in Services – Business Services Programme
3. NITEC in Business Services Programme is part of this effort. It is a rigorous programme, comprising 660 hours of training on topics such as social media, marketing, customer service, and sales techniques.
4. This course will prepare graduands for a career in the service industry. Retail and F&B are popular options, with jobs in sales or customer service. For those of you who have scored well, I encourage you to further your studies to Higher NITEC, or the polytechnics.
5. I have attended a number of such graduation ceremonies, and have always been inspired by the tenacity showed by the graduands. I would now like to share the story of two graduands. Reading and understanding what they have done, I am really inspired. I hope their stories will inspire you too. I will be referring to the graduands as ‘Siti’ and ‘Max’.
6. ‘Siti’ is one of the top scorers for this programme. ‘Siti’ enrolled for the programme with the encouragement of her Personal Supervisor, Chief Warder Hairina. ‘Siti’ shared that she experienced many ups and downs as she went through the programme. Modules such as Introduction to Data Analytics & Cyber-security were challenging as the topics were completely foreign to her. Nonetheless, she told herself not to give up and regularly revised her work. She shared that reading up prior to lessons improved her understanding of the topics. With the help of her lecturers and family members, she managed to pull through.
7. During the programme, she grew to understand her fellow classmates better. They learnt how to adapt and motivate one another so that they could graduate as a group. I am happy to share that ‘Siti’ is able to qualify for a local polytechnic and I understand she plans to further her education upon release. Congratulations, ‘Siti’!
8. Another graduand who did very well is ‘Max’. ‘Max’ is currently emplaced on the community-based programme. He signed up for this programme as he was determined to change for the better and to use his time in prison to acquire new skills. He found the Social Media Marketing module to be the most challenging, especially the project component that required filming. His team had to work within the boundaries of what could be filmed and helped each other through.
9. ‘Max’ felt that the skills taught in the programme went beyond the work environment and were also useful for his daily interactions. He completed the programme with a GPA of 3.8 and is also keen to further his studies. Well done, ‘Max’!
10. To ‘Siti’, ‘Max’ and the other graduands, congratulations on completing this programme. Your perseverance in the face of adversity is commendable and a motivation for all of us. I am sure all of you can overcome other obstacles that may come your way, just like how all of you here have managed to complete the programme despite the challenges faced.
Appreciation for Staff, Family Members and Community Partners
11. As we celebrate the achievement of our graduands, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have played an important role in their success.
12. Firstly, family members whose unwavering support and belief have motivated the graduands to stay on this education journey. Secondly, I would like to thank the teachers from ITE and officers from SPS and YRSG, for your valiant efforts and encouragement with the graduands, every step of the way. Thirdly, I would like to acknowledge ITE, for agreeing to collaborate with SPS and YRSG in upskilling inmates to secure a better future for them.
13. Specifically, I would like to thank Ms Tham Mei Leng, Director of ITE College Central, School of Business Services, and her team for adapting the programme in a prison setting, without compromising the standards and quality of the programme.
14. I look forward to more opportunities for collaboration between ITE, SPS and YRSG in other NITEC programmes or skills training courses that will help improve our inmates’ employability.
15. Completing a year-long programme is never easy, and to do so while in prison is an accomplishment. Congratulations once again to all graduands, family members and friends! May you continue your journey, and look forward to better lives ahead.