10 Mar 2022
1. At the 2022 Committee of Supply (COS), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced new initiatives to (i) raise the quality of early childhood professionals and programmes, and (ii) enhance support for children from low-income families. These initiatives build on continuing efforts to give every child a good start in life and to uplift the early childhood profession. More details are at Annex
Enhancing access to affordable, quality preschools
2. To improve access to affordable, quality preschools, PM Lee had announced at the 2019 National Day Rally that the Government would continue to expand the number of government-supported preschool places so that 8 in 10 preschoolers can have a place in government-supported preschools by around 2025. Through the development of more Anchor Operator preschools and MOE Kindergartens, and the expansion of the Partner Operator scheme in 2021, the proportion of preschoolers in government-supported preschools has increased to over 60%, up from just over 50% in 2018. We have also more than doubled the number of full-day preschool places in the past decade – from 90,000 places in 2012 to around 200,000 places as of end-2021.
Raising the quality of early childhood professionals and programmes
Supporting the professional development of early childhood educators and leaders
3. To support this expansion of preschool places, the number of early childhood educators in the sector has grown steadily from 18,000 in 2018 to over 23,000 in 2021. As the early childhood fraternity continues to grow, the Government will continue to support the professional development of early childhood educators and leaders.
4. To strengthen leadership competencies in the sector and better equip leaders to drive quality improvements in their centres, ECDA will introduce a Leadership Development Framework (LDF) to guide the holistic development of centre leaders in three competency areas: Curricular and Pedagogical leadership, Strategic and Administrative leadership, and Core leadership. The LDF will be supported by a leadership training roadmap, which will guide potential and existing early childhood leaders in acquiring the LDF competencies progressively. The LDF also includes information on continuing professional development (CPD) courses and milestone programmes, such as the Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Leadership (ADECL) offered by the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC). ADECL will also be enhanced to better prepare early childhood educators for centre leader roles. More details are at Annex B.
Raising the quality of teaching in the early childhood sector
5. To complement formal training of early childhood educators, ECDA will be launching Early Childhood Learning Communities (ECLC) from April 2022 to foster peer sharing and learning of pedagogical knowledge and practices across the sector. This initiative will also allow outstanding educators to be identified and nurtured to become future curricular and pedagogical leaders.
6. The ECLCs will cover four domain areas – Early Years Competencies, Outdoor Learning, Social and Emotional Development, and Language and Literacy. Each learning community will be formed by core members known as Pedagogists And Specialists in TEaching and Learning (PASTELs) and be supported by a Resource Person appointed by ECDA. Following regular exchange of ideas and best teaching practices through learning community sessions and other customised professional development programmes, PASTELs will in turn lead Communities of Practices (peer sharing and learning sessions for exchange of best teaching practices among educators who share common interests in the domain area) which will benefit some 300 other educators over the next two years. During their two-year membership, PASTELs can look forward to fully funded professional development programmes and a professional development grant in their second year. In addition, an annual manpower relief fund will be available to their employers to defray manpower relief costs. More details are at Annex C.
7. In addition to encouraging the sharing of good teaching practices across the sector, ECDA is developing a Quality Teaching Tool (QTT) to establish a common standard for quality teaching in our local context, based on effective, evidence-based pedagogical practices. The QTT, which will focus on the quality of teacher-child interaction, will help educators evaluate their own pedagogical practices to build on their strengths and identify areas of growth to help them further hone their pedagogical skills. Once developed, the tool will be made available to all preschools to raise the quality of teaching and learning across the sector.
Raising the quality of preschool programmes
8. The Government will also continue supporting preschools in providing quality early childhood care and education programmes. ECDA will be reviewing the Early Years Development Framework (EYDF) for educators of children aged 3 and below, first launched in 2011, to include new areas such as the learning of Mother Tongue languages and creating an inclusive classroom environment, and better guide educators in supporting children’s learning and development. The refreshed EYDF will be ready by end-2023. More details are at Annex D.
Enhancing Support for Children from Low-Income Families
Expanding KidSTART nationwide to support more families
9. The KidSTART programme provides upstream support to lower-income families with young children up to 6 years old in the home, community and preschool settings. KidSTART supports parents with the knowledge and skills to nurture their children’s early development, including their physical and socio-emotional health and well-being, and works with community and corporate partners to support families holistically. Since it was first piloted in 2016, KidSTART has benefitted over 3,000 children from lower-income families living in 13 Social Service Office (SSO) regions1 and is on track to support 5,000 children by 2023.
10. To support more families, the KidSTART programme will progressively be expanded nationwide from 2023 to eventually serve eligible families in all 24 SSO regions. The expansion will be done in phases, starting with home visits offered to pregnant mothers and parents of infants in new regions, followed by the other KidSTART components.
Expanding Growing Together with KidSTART to more partners
11. Through the ‘Growing Together with KidSTART’ initiative launched in 2019, the Government will continue to deepen and forge partnerships with the community to raise support for KidSTART families. In addition to deepening partnerships with existing partners such as the SP Group and the LEGO Group, we have forged new partnerships with more organisations including Procter & Gamble and Kellogg. Since 2019, corporations and individuals have contributed over $4 million in cash and in-kind donations, including items such as connectivity devices, books and toys to benefit KidSTART families. Our pool of volunteers has also continued to grow, enabling us to provide additional support to more families. More details are at Annex E.
A Good Start for Every Child
12. The Government is committed to improving access to quality and affordable preschools, to give a good start to every child. Overall, the Government’s annual spending on the early childhood sector is expected to more than double over the next few years, from around $1 billion in 2018. 1KidSTART is currently in the following SSO regions: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Boon Lay, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang Serai, Kreta Ayer, Sembawang, Taman Jurong, Woodlands and Yishun.
1 KidSTART is currently in the following SSO regions: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Boon Lay, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang Serai, Kreta Ayer, Sembawang, Taman Jurong, Woodlands and Yishun.