Never 'too old to pursue an education'
Academy for adult education and training sees record number of graduates this year
Graduating from the Continuing Education & Training (CET) Academy at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) was a proud moment for Ms Lee Seet Yin.
She not only completed the business practice (tourism management) diploma, she topped her cohort of 25 students.
Ms Lee, 39, a sales executive, said: "During my graduation ceremony, I think my mother and sister were even happier than me."
CET Academy offers adult education and training. It saw a record number of 347 CET Academy graduates at its graduation ceremony on May 11. It had 233 last year and 111 in 2015.
It offers three main clusters of programmes, including diploma and post-diploma qualifications, customised courses and short courses.
Ms Lee's road to success was not a smooth one.
Forced to enrol in a top secondary school by her father, she rebelled by intentionally failing. When she was in Secondary 2, her father died.
After completing her O levels, she enrolled in a business course at Temasek Polytechnic but dropped out after six months to work at a country club cafe.
When she was 24, Ms Lee took night classes for an A-level certificate but did not show up for her final examinations.
She returned to school three years ago, enrolling in the CET programme.
She said: "I always thought that I 'deserved' the paper qualifications, and it stopped me from completing my studies.
"When I embarked on my studies in 2014, I was driven by a positive mindset where I wanted to make a change in my life.
"Learning has no restrictions, and I believe there is no such thing as being too old to pursue an education."
Commenting on the record number of CET Academy graduates, Ms Tan Suat Peng, director of CET Academy at NP, said: "We believe more Singaporeans are seeing the importance of lifelong learning.
"This increase is largely due to an increased awareness of the SkillsFuture movement and its subsidies, as well as the related increase in NP CET programmes. There has been about a 30 per cent increase in the number of programmes offered, from 24 in 2015 to 31 last year."
The Academic Continuing Education and Training Survey 2016, a survey conducted jointly by the polytechnics, found that nine in 10 NP trainees felt that CET had a positive impact on their work.
Ms Tan said: "Singaporeans need to face the hard truth, that our learning does not stop at graduating from the university or polytechnic.
"As individuals, we need to act as catalysts ourselves to ensure we are armed with the right skills that will be matched to the right jobs now as well as jobs of the future."
Ms Lee felt like she hit a wall in her career when she noticed her friends around her advancing in their respective fields.
She said: "It was then I realised I needed to do something, otherwise I would be stuck in the same place when I am older."
Father of two juggled studies and family
He became an inspiration for his colleagues when he topped his cohort and graduated with a diploma in engineering, building services and fire safety.
Mr Mohamad Hairul Salim, 32, a fire and rescue specialist at the Singapore Civil Defence Force, said: "I became a role model for the national servicemen who are way younger than me. If I can do it, then they can too."
The father of two children, aged 2½ years old and two months old, said that time management was the main obstacle he was faced with.
He had to make many sacrifices to spend time with his family.
He said: "I was willing to make sacrifices and with the support of family and friends, I did not feel like it was a challenge."