New centralised institute to train pre-school teachers
Current programmes will be brought under National Institute of Early Childhood Development
For five years, she enjoyed her work at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but she had always wanted to be a teacher.
Last year, Ms Marie Luo, 29, took a pay cut and a leap of faith, signing up with the Ministry of Education (MOE), which was recruiting early childhood professionals.
The former senior assistant director, who now teaches at MOE Kindergarten at Punggol View, is an example of the talent that the pre-school sector is hoping to attract, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally yesterday.
For a start, there will be a new institute to train teachers, he announced.
The National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) - similar to the National Institute of Education (NIE) that trains teachers for primary and secondary schools and junior college - will be set up.
There are now different pre-school teacher training programmes in Temasek Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, ITE and the SEED Institute, and they will be brought together under this institute.
Mr Lee said they hope to improve the standing of the pre-school sector, and will use the same approach used at MOE.
He added: "The MOE teachers do fulfilling work, they are paid competitively and have good career paths."
This occurs against the backdrop of a growing early childhood sector.
By 2020, 20,000 early childhood professionals will be needed to meet the sector's needs, up from the current 16,000.
In a statement yesterday, the Early Childhood Development Agency announced that all NIEC pre-employment students will be offered Training Awards that consist of full sponsorship with an allowance.
It will also engage and groom promising NIEC students in their final year to give them a strong start in their career.
Mid-career switchers enrolled at NIEC will continue to be supported under the Professional Conversion Programme.
Mr Victor Bay, chief executive officer of the PAP Community Foundation, which operates PCF Sparkletots, said it welcomes the centralised institute.
"It will expand the availability of continuous professional development for our current teachers," he said.
"All these will enable the profession to further progress and make early childhood an attractive career for many more."
Ms Luo told The New Paper last night that there are preconceived notions about the sector, but felt the switch was worth it, especially when she sees the joyin the children every day.
She said: "Some think we are child minders, in charge of cleaning poop or teaching kids to count. But it is much more than that. We are raising a new generation"
Initiatives for pre-schools
Pre-schoolers will get at least one hour daily of physical activity in school - up from the current 30 minutes - as part of recommendations by the NurtureSG Taskforce to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from young.
Pre-schools will need to meet requirements on serving a variety of food groups in meals and cut out sugary drinks and deep-fried food.
New pre-school model
From 2019, all eligible Singaporean Nursery 2 children enrolled at Early Year Centres in Punggol run by NTUC's My First Skool and PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots Preschool will be have a spot reserved in a nearby partner MOE Kindergarten. - FOO JIE YING