A good early start to education is important to a child’s development. It is especially important for the lower income families to help the child be ready for primary schools.
Schemes like the Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme or KiFAS, with start-up grants and monthly fee subsidies are helpful to the low income group.
However, after 8 years of KiFAS implementation since January 2004, only one kindergarten group, namely the PAP Community Foundation qualifies as eligible provider despite there being some 260 other centres in the industry. In contrast, all child care centres licensed by MCYS are eligible centres for the Centre-based Financial Assistance Scheme for Childcare, or CFAC. While I understand the need to ensure quality of education, the bar is set so high that only one organisation in the industry has qualified.
There are many established and reputable kindergarten providers in the industry, including the kindergartens that my siblings, my wife and I have attended as children. Many of these kindergartens operate within the community, providing affordable and high quality preschool education but are KiFAS eligible. KiFAS criteria, amongst others include :
1. Have no religious affiliation or relation to racial groups; and
2. Be financially sound with a minimum paid-up capital of $5 million
These two stringent criteria are not required for CFAC and I am not sure why they are needed here. I hope MCYS will review the criteria to ensure greater choice of kindergartens for low income families to send children to, including to private kindergartens.