Singapore

Singapore's largest pre-school operator to convert 80 kindergartens to facilities offering full-day childcare

Conversion will happen over the next four years, says PM Lee

Over the next four years, Singapore's largest pre-school operator will convert 80 of its kindergartens to facilities offering full-day childcare.

This is part of the Government's plan to increase the number of childcare spaces, especially in younger estates such as Punggol, Sengkang and Choa Chu Kang, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He added that more than 50 PAP Community Foundation (PCF) kindergartens underwent this conversion last year.

The PCF, which is the People's Action Party's (PAP) charitable arm that runs the Sparkletots pre-schools, is also expanding its curriculum to introduce concepts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This approach is being used at 12 pre-schools now, with more set to come on board by next year.

Two new Sparkletots centres opening in Radin Mas and Joo Chiat will also have a focus on outdoor learning, with the Radin Mas centre featuring a nursing home on the site.

"This way, the young people can encourage the old ones and cheer them up, and the old people can keep an eye on the young ones and interact and engage with them," PM Lee said.

INCREASED SUBSIDIES

He also reiterated his assurance made during this year's National Day Rally of affordable pre-school education for lower- and middle-income families, especially those with two or more children in pre-school.

"We are substantially increasing subsidies from next year," he said.

In the long term, he added, the aim is to make pre-school fees comparable with what a family would pay for primary school plus after-school care.

PM Lee was speaking at the annual PCF Family Day event at the Victoria Theatre yesterday.

Among those in the audience was five-year-old Chua Howe Ran, who worked on developing a wearable light-up "night patch" in school after a bicycle ran over his foot last year.

"It is a very good programme for them to start young," said his father, Mr Chua Jian Ye, 38, who is self-employed. "It helps them to start to have problem-solving skills from a young age, not just rote learning."

He said that compared with his own kindergarten days, Howe Ran's curriculum includes "a wider range of activities and a much wider scope".

The Family Day event was attended by more than 10,000 PCF staff, pupils and their families, as well as various Cabinet ministers and MPs.

As part of the celebrations, 200 artworks by children from PCF Sparkletots were put on display at Victoria Theatre and the Asian Civilisations Museum. The works depicted Singapore's past, present and future.

Participants also got to join in an activity trail around historical landmarks in the area.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources, who chaired the event's organising committee, said: "This is an area that is rich in history, and even as we take stock of our past... this is an area where you can catch a glimpse of the skyline of modern Singapore and what is to come in the future."

Education