Speaking up for preschool teachers

He is a former army trainer and preschool teacher. Now, early childhood trainer Philip Koh is also gunning for an NMP seat.

He is clear about his mission: Speak up and, fingers crossed, help improve the life of preschool teachers in Singapore.

The 50-year-old father of an undergraduate is the founder of the online group Preschool Teachers Network Singapore (PTNS).

Formed two years ago, it has more than 6,000 members.

Of the names bandied as potential NMPs, Mr Koh said: "It's rather humbling when you look at some of their achievements. I'm just going to go for it and see what happens."

The hip dad, who enjoys dancing and going to the gym, has managed to keep his plans under wraps from his family - so far.

Business development manager Richard Toh, who has known Mr Koh for more than six years, said: "Philip will continue to be a moderate voice of reason and advocate for the (early childhood) sector.

"He's very passionate (about this) and always challenges students to think outside the box."

It is such passion that convinced preschool teacher Cassandra Chan to be his referee for the bid, despite not knowing him personally.

Madam Chan, 42, said: "I read the articles he wrote on PTNS and heard of him through other colleagues. We need someone who knows the ground and understands the issues to voice our concerns."

What made you decide to run for the post?

A group of us were talking about the NMP post. I mentioned it would be good if someone represented the sector and other preschool teachers suggested I do so.

What changes do you hope to bring about?

Build a sense of unity among the early childhood education community.

Teachers' pay, recognition and working conditions have been an issue for some time.

While there have been some announcements about pay review, it'll also be good to improve working conditions like class size and to look into achieving work-life balance.

Perhaps we can also have more government funding, to give teachers more scholarship opportunities.

I also hope that more men will enter the sector.

What are you busy with?

Organising the logistics for a PTNS event in July. We're eyeing a spot in the Singapore Book of Records for the most number of people running with painted faces.

Last year, we set a record for having the most number of people wearing bandanas while running.