Include private centres in preschool push
I AM curious about how the $290 million investment in the preschool sector, over five years, will be implemented. (‘Preschools: Funds to boost teaching quality’; Tuesday).
Minister of State for Education Masagos Zulkifli said the funding will also go towards keeping fees affordable, and upgrading centres and programmes. Preschools are either privately owned or operated by organisations such as the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and PAP Community Foundation (PCF).
In my 15-year involvement in the industry, I have not known of any government funding for upgrading the facilities of privately owned centres, so I cannot see how this can lower the cost of preschool education in such centres.
There is also no reason for the Government to fund the upgrading of centres run by NTUC and PCF as they have their own fund sources and are usually already paying rent that is below market rates.
As for upgrading programmes, I hope efforts to boost the curriculum and resources will be extended to private centres to alleviate their costs.
When I visited Western Australia to study its system of preschool education support, I discovered that the centres could borrow toys, puppets, educational games, drama costumes and other resources they needed for teaching and learning from community libraries.
These are useful resources that are infrequently used by a centre and which public institutions can lend out.
The massive funding announced in Parliament should also be used to help private preschool centres keep costs down and thereby keep their fees affordable.
Yee Jenn Jong
Footnote: My original letter had asked the Ministry to specifically explain the breakdown of the $290 million and how it can be used to keep cost of preschool affordable. This portion was unfortunately deleted by the Forum editor. It was the main purpose of my letter, to ask for the breakdown.
———————– Reply by MOE & MCYS ——————
ST Forum, March 16, 2011
Why preschool subsidy is selective
WE THANK Ms Yvonne Lee (‘Private centres left out: Shouldn’t all preschoolers be eligible for aid?’) and Mr Yee Jenn Jong (‘Include private centres in preschool push’) for their feedback last Thursday.
The Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme, disbursed by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), aims to ensure that children are not deprived of a preschool education because of the family’s financial circumstances.
The increase in the eligible monthly household income criterion from $1,800 to $3,500 from April 1 will let more families benefit from the scheme’s subsidies.
Eligibility requires kindergartens to be registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE), be non-profit, secular and in a good financial position to provide quality preschool education.
These criteria serve to ensure that assistance is targeted at kindergartens which serve lower- and middle- income households. There are about 240 eligible kindergartens which are well-distributed across Singapore.
MCYS and MOE are committed to enhancing the quality, accessibility and affordability of preschool education. We make available a range of resources to all preschools. These include funding to uplift the quality of preschool educators and the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework, which helps preschools appraise and improve their teaching, learning and management practices.
MOE also provides resources for curriculum development and opportunities for professional development, such as seminars, learning journeys and overseas work attachment programmes, to all preschool teachers.
Choo Lee See (Mrs)
Director of ComCare and
Social Support Division
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports
Sum Chee Wah (Miss)
Director, Education Programmes
Ministry of Education
Former NMP Siew Kum Hong’s comments in his blog: