SINGAPORE – It has undergone several facelifts, but Assumption Pathway School (APS) has remained true to its original motto, ‘Through work, achieve success’. Over the past 72 years, its doors have welcomed many young people who are more inclined towards a practical education rather than book knowledge.
Back in Jan 17, 1938, two Gabrielite brothers set up a school with two buildings for the training of poor and destitute boys. It was named St. Joseph’s Trade School and had an inaugural intake of only 14 boys.
Evolution over the years
During World War II, the school was taken over by the Japanese. After the war, the Brothers of St. Gabriel reopened the trade school and an orphanage to house 15 orphans whose parents had perished during the war. It offered courses like General Mechanics, Carpentry and Printing and later in 1950, the Forging, Welding and Motor Mechanics sections were started.
In 1951, St. Joseph’s Trade School became a government-aided school.
The next significant change was in 1970 when it was renamed Boys’ Town Trade School.
A year later, it was renamed Boy’s Town Vocational Institute.
Through a series of substantial grants and donations from benefactors over the years, the institute streamlined its courses and replaced redundant ones.
On Apr 1, 1994, it was renamed Assumption Vocational Institute to facilitate the intake of girls the following year.
In March 2008, the St. Gabriel’s Foundation – together with the Ministry of Education and the Institute of Technical Education – announced the enhancement and upgrading of Assumption Vocational Institute with a grant of $28 million. It was renamed Assumption Pathway School in January 2009, as it began its enrolment of 300 students.
In 2011 at the completion of the refurbishment, APS will be able to accommodate 700 students as well as a hostel for 60 students. It is run by principal Wee Tat Chuan and executive director Christopher Neo.
The bulk of students go through a three-year programme, where they first get to try out various courses before they select one to concentrate on.
Each year consists of a total of 1,000 hours, of which around 40 percent is dedicated to Foundation and Character education and the balance to Vocational education.
At the end of their studies, the students graduate with an ISC (Institute of Technical Education Skills Certificate) in Electrical Servicing, Mechanical Servicing, Food Preparation & Service or Baking Practices.
The training includes the Montfort Development Programme, which takes its objectives from the teaching of St. Louis De Montfort. This programme aims to build up students’ self esteem and to teach them to serve the community.
The real life learning experience
Assumption Pathway’s impressive set-up has created a real-life working scenario on its premises such as the restaurant, which would not be out of place in a five star hotel, and is staffed entirely by students from the food preparation module. These students cook, bake and serve customers at that high level.
A sense of eagerness amongst the students and the caring attitude of the teaching staff perpetuated the campus.
Suhashini, a second year student, said that she “really likes the teachers” and that APS is a fun place where she made a lot of friends. Third-year student Tan Siew Ping said, “The teachers are very good and the courses, interesting.”
APS is a unique proposition in the Singapore education scene and is suitable even for non-Catholic students.
A call for donations
In order to continue its good work, APS has embarked on a building programme that will enable it to continue helping students gain a foothold in society. Although this venture is subsidised by the Ministry of Education, the institute has to raise a further $1.5 million in order to give the project legs.
The building programme will include a hostel to support the school’s residential programme, a training restaurant to provide a real work environment and a multimedia library to enhance the students’ literacy.
For information about APS and the courses it offers, visit www.aps.edu.sg.
Information on ACCS at www.accs.sg
By Don Gurugay (ACCS)