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Singapore to turn high schools into IT labs

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Singapore government is bent on turning the country's public high schools into training laboratories to address the growing demand for skilled workers in the communications technology industry.

Commission on Information and Communications Technology chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, said the government is allotting P1 million for every public high school selected to pilot the commission's 'Internet for Public High Schools' project or iSchool Project this year.

'This is a form of public service aimed at bridging the digital divide and making our young students globally competitive,' he said.

CICT Commissioner Monchito Ibrahim said the students' technology training would prepare them for more intensive information technology education in college and fill in the void in the demand for more skilled information technology graduates.

'There is now a mismatch between what are taught in schools and what are actually needed by emergent industries,' he said.

Ibrahim said there were more than 500,000 college graduates in 2007 but most of them ended unemployed or underemployed.

The iSchool Project would also train teachers to upgrade them on the digital and web aspects of computer technology.

Chua said CICT would bring the iSchool Project to at least 2,000 of the country's more than 5,000 public high schools in the next few years.

Ibrahim said the biggest problem that beset today's education and industries is the lack of communication between schools and industry leaders, resulting in the failure to determine what the industries actually needed in terms of learning and skills.

'Despite more than half a million graduates last year, we were not still able to supply manpower to 200,000 jobs available in the infotech industry,' he said.

In fact, he said, for every 100 graduates in the country today, only five are readily available.

'This sorry state of our education could be attributed to lack of communication skills, lack of proficiency in speaking the English language and below par information technology skill,' he said.

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