Parents welcome additional subsidies for pre-school education
These additional subsidies are expected to benefit about 30,000 more families
Sending their three-year-old son Joern to a childcare centre costs Mr Jason Low and his wife, Madam Julia Koh, about $500 monthly, about 20 per cent of their total expenditure.
More help is on the way for the couple who now draw a combined monthly income of just above $7,500, as the Government is raising the monthly income ceiling from $7,500 to $12,000 starting next year for parents to enjoy additional subsidies for pre-schools.
"The extra subsidy can allow us to channel more funds to our child's development, such as taekwondo and swimming lessons, which he has expressed an interest in," said Mr Low, 32, an executive at a supermarket.
His wife is a pre-school educator. They are expecting a second boy this October.
At the National Day Rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced changes to the additional subsidies for pre-school education, which will benefit about 30,000 more households.
All Singaporean children receive a basic subsidy of up to $300 monthly if they are enrolled in a childcare centre and up to $600 monthly if they are in infant care.
The basic subsidy amount depends on the child's age and whether the parent is working.
Additional subsidies - which go up to $440 monthly - apply only to those who are working and have a gross monthly household income under $7,500 or a per capita income of $1,875 for larger families.
The amount depends on the age of the child and the family's income level, and is also set to rise.
PM Lee also said that over time, 80 per cent of pre-school places will be government-supported, up from just over 50 per cent now, including those at Ministry of Education kindergartens.
They also include places run by centres under the Early Childhood Development Agency's anchor operator or partner operator schemes, where the operators receive government funding to keep their fees low. They can include public or private pre-schools.
The Singapore Muslim Women's Association, which has seven childcare centres under the partner operator scheme, supported the changes, saying a third of its 827 students would be potentially eligible for the additional subsidies.
In response, Ms Fiona Walker, group managing director for Julia Gabriel Education, which operates the Chiltern House pre-schools, said it would help if more private pre-schools were given government support. Private pre-schools can range from $1,500 to $2,000 a month at MindChamps to more than $5,000 for a 10-week school term at EtonHouse.