SINGAPORE – A grant of $28 million has been awarded to Assumption Vocational Institute (AVI) to enhance its programmes and facilities.

Former Minister of Education, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, made this announcement when he visited the school in March. Come 2009, AVI will be renamed Assumption Pathway School (APS) and run a new three-year to four-year enhanced programme. It will increase its student intake from a current 270 to 700 students in 2011 at the completion of its refurbishment.

Set up by the Brothers of St. Gabriel, AVI is a Catholic institution that is part of the Boys’ Town Community. It began serving the community through training poor and destitute boys as early as 1938 and was known then as the St. Joseph’s Trade School.

In the 1970s it was renamed Boys’ Town Vocational Institute and expanded its vocational programme. It evolved again in 1994 and was renamed Assumption Vocational Institute to facilitate its intake of girls into its programme. The institute underwent an $8 million renovation and upgrading programme and shifted to a temporary holding at the former Mountbatten Vocational Institute at Dakota Crescent. Courses were also revamped then to better reflect the needs of the students and the industry.

AVI is currently managed by a School Management Committee with representatives from St. Gabriel’s Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Institute of Technical Education. It takes in students who have failed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) three times as well as students who have prematurely left secondary school. In 2009 the proposed enhanced programme of APS will design a new three-year to four-year programme to address the needs and abilities of students who fail PSLE once or more or those who drop out of the normal secondary school education system.

Character development will take up a greater share of curriculum time. A focused programme called the Montfort Development Programme will be introduced to emphasize service to the community, with exposure to sports, outdoor activities and the arts to help students build confidence and teamwork.

Students will also be able to acquire life-skills through the experience of independent and communal living during a residential programme for two weeks a year. The key focus will be on providing students with the skills, confidence and learning abilities for them to progress in their education and careers and contribute to society.

Christopher Neo, Principal of AVI since 2004, will be appointed Executive Director of Vocational Training Programme at the new Assumption Pathway School.

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