Singapore

New scheme to attract more infant educarers

Housewives and grandmothers are being wooed to enter the infant care sector, with a new training scheme that focuses more on hands-on practice.

Similar to an apprenticeship, it caters to people "including more mature women, who are not inclined towards long classroom-based training", said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

The Government hopes to train about 200 allied infant educarers (AIEs) in the next two to three years under this scheme, which is to be piloted at the end of this month.

It is part of the ECDA's plans to attract 1,000 more infant educarers - who work with children aged two months to 18 months - by 2020. There are about 1,400 infant educarers now.

It was one of three initiatives announced in Parliament yesterday to attract and develop manpower in the early childhood sector.

They support plans announced in the Budget speech last month to have 1,000 more infant care places by 2020.

During the debate over his ministry's budget, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim said: "We understand that some people with interest, aptitude and competence to care for infants may be unable to join the sector, either because they do not want to attend classroom-based training, or they lack the appropriate academic records."

He said the AIE scheme will focus on "aptitude and competency". So on-the-job training will take up 45 per cent of the course's 110 training hours.

We understand that some people with interest, aptitude and competence to care for infants may be unable to join the sector... Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim

By contrast, an existing course for infant educarers runs for 300 hours, of which 40 per cent is spent on on-the-job training.

This gives them more guidance on planning activities for children.

The new scheme aims to give trainees "fundamental skills for quality infant care", for instance in feeding.

An ECDA spokesman said the AIEs can be counted as programme staff, which are factored in the pre-schools' staff-child ratio requirements.

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