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National Institute of Education is established 1st Jul 1991

The National Institute of Education (NIE) was established on 1 July 1991 as part of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the result of the merger between the Institute of Education (IE) and the College of Physical Education (CPE).[1] NIE’s origins can be traced back to the Teachers’ Training College in 1950, IE’s predecessor and Singapore’s first formal school for teachers.[2]

The creation of NIE was proposed by the Institute of Education and the College of Physical Education Development Committee, which had convened in August 1989. The 13-member committee, comprising educationists and ministry officials, was headed by then Minister of State for Education Seet Ai Mee.[3] The committee highlighted the urgent need to recruit more primary-level teachers, as well as to improve their calibre. Consequently, it recommended the merging of IE and CPE.[4] With the formation of NIE and a shift to university-based training for teachers, academic standards could be raised, and a greater range of post-graduate programmes and more substantial research could be provided.[5]

NIE opened at the IE campus in Bukit Timah.[6] Former University of Singapore Science Faculty dean and professor of botany Gloria Lim was appointed as the institute’s first director.[7] The institute first offered a four-year degree programme leading to bachelor’s degrees in arts or science with diplomas in either education or physical education.[8] It also offered a standalone two-year diploma programme in education.[9] Both courses were tailored specifically for teaching at the primary level.[10] NIE also offered a postgraduate diploma to prepare graduates teaching in secondary schools.[11]

Students enrolling in NIE’s degree programme received either a bursary or a scholarship from the Ministry of Education (MOE). These were worth S$7,200 in the first year of study, and S$7,680 in the next three years, pending review. Upon graduation, students would serve a three- or five-year teaching bond with the government. Students pursuing the postgraduate diploma received S$940 or S$1,300 monthly depending on their qualifications.[12] The value of these awards increased over the years.[13]

NIE’s first intake of students exceeded the administration’s projected enrolment – the institute accepted 200 A-level holders out of about 400 applicants who had signed up for the undergraduate degree programme, as well as 330 graduates who had registered for the diploma programme.[14]

Shortly after opening, NIE announced enhancements to its nascent programmes and degrees. The institute indicated plans to introduce music and art subject options for its bachelor of arts degree for the following academic year.[15] It also revealed that it was exploring the idea of offering a combined arts and science degree.[16] The institute also collaborated with the Loughborough University of Technology, whereby the UK university would provide consultation on NIE’s syllabuses and programmes and appoint its external examiners to NIE.[17]

In 2001, NIE relocated to its present campus on NTU’s premises in Jurong.[18]

1. NIE to take over training of teachers. (1991, February 12). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Calibre of primary school teachers is important. (1990, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. The Business Times, 12 Feb 1990, p. 2; Teo, A. (1990, February 14). Committee proposes upgrading of training for teachers. The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. The Straits Times, 17 Feb 1990, p. 21.
5. Chen, A.Y., & Koay, S.L. (Eds.). (2010). Transforming teaching, inspiring learning: 60 years of teacher education in Singapore, 1950–2010 (p. 129). Singapore: National Institute of Education. Call no.: RSING 370.71095957 TRA; The Business Times, 14 Feb 1990, p. 3.
6. Plan for high-calibre primary school teachers. (1990, February 14). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Ex-university don gets top education institute job. (1991, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. The Straits Times, 5 Mar 1991, p. 4
9. Chua, C. J. (1991, July 3). 200 to do first degree course to be primary school teachers. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Primary education receives a boost. (1991, July 3). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. The Straits Times, 3 Jul 1991, p. 25.
12. The Straits Times, 3 Jul 1991, p. 25.
13. Mathi, B. (1996, March 22).Current NIE trainees to get new salaries too. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. The Straits Times, 3 Jul 1991, p. 25.
15. Ng, W. J. (1991, November 5). NIE to offer music, art as degree-level subjects. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Chua, C. J. (1991, December 1). NIE may offer joint arts, science degree next year. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. The Straits Times, 3 Jul 1991, p. 25.
18. Goh, D. (2001, January 9). A new semester, a new NIE campus. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at July 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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