Pre-school sector: MOE looking into views of experts

Pre-school sector: MOE looking into views of experts

Date
Saturday, 21 July 2012

Media Type
TODAY Online

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education is looking into the recommendations made by a group of experts on how to improve the pre-school sector in Singapore, said Minister of State (Education) Lawrence Wong yesterday. 

Speaking at the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association's annual forum, Mr Wong said the ministry is doing more to raise the quality of pre-school especially since it is attended by almost 99 per cent of Primary 1-going children.

"As we go about doing so, we are very mindful that pre-school should not be an extension of formalised schooling for our young children. A quality pre-school education is not about cramming maximum knowledge into a young child's mind," he said. 

"It is also not about enrolling into multiple kindergartens as some have reported in the newspapers recently. 

"Rather, it is about instilling in our children a sense of curiosity and creativity - abilities that are even more important for learning in the long term."

The report was commissioned by philanthropic organisation Lien Foundation, and recommendations include making pre-school education free and raising the salaries of pre-school teachers.

National Institute of Education lecturer Nirmala Karuppiah said there was a need to address the comparison between pre-school teachers and mainstream school teachers, to attract quality teachers to the pre-school sector. 

"But because the early childhood teachers come from the private sector, it's a little tricky, and I think we need to look at how we can do this without increasing the fees for early childhood services," she said. 

And while educators Channel NewsAsia spoke to agreed with the principle of making pre-school education free, they cited possible challenges.

Said Ms Magdaline Kang, Principal of PAP Community Foundation Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Education Centre: "If you just give them free (education), some of them may say, just register in a kindergarten, and then they don't attend, and then the fund will be misused."

Source: TODAY Online, mediacorp