A Development Project for the Scoping of the Singapore Early Years Longitudinal Study

Project Number
OER 15/08 SW

Project Duration
April 2009 - August 2011

Status
Completed

Abstract
Early childhood development is an extremely complex process influenced by a range of influences that are both positive and negative. Internationally, there is a growing interest in the development of children from birth to school entry and the impact of these years on the entire life course. Three factors are fuelling this interest: (a) the widely acknowledged need for human capital to enable global economic competitiveness in the face of an aging population and the demand for new workplace skills, (b) research in neurobiology that clarifies the influential interaction between genetics and early experience on brain development, and � rich evaluation literature that documents how early interventions have the capacity to boost lifelong cognitive, social and mental health outcomes. Based on this literature, this proposed Development Project will establish the direction of The Singapore Early Years Longitudinal Study (SEYLS). Internationally, established longitudinal studies (e.g., Australia, UK, New Zealand) have identified a variety of individual, school and home factors (amenable to change) that are associated with differential outcomes for young children over time. Such studies have helped inform effective policies and interventions to boost individual/family resilience and improve early childhood education and care programmes and affiliated services. It is in Singapore's interest to understand these key factors in relation to child development to ensure that we 'grow' adults who are autonomous, competent and well-balanced; that is, equipped with the skills they will need to participate in economic and civic life, contribute to society and establish enduring intimate relationships to nurture the next generation. Currently, Singapore has minimal comprehensive data on children 0-8 years of age. Hence, it is difficult to gauge the influence of the ecological factors identified above on Singaporean children. Although we can learn from a number of longitudinal studies conducted in other countries, Singapore is unique in a number of ways that have the potential to influence child development: a multi-racial and multi-lingual population; high proportion of multi-generational households; employment of maids to do in-home childcare; cultural values regarding achievement; beliefs about the best ways to learn; unique meanings of 'success' and 'failure'; rapid social and economic change and evolving demographics (fastest ageing population in Asia). Hence, this project - which will be the first Asian research project of this magnitude - will add significantly to new knowledge construction and have a highly important impact on educational practice, child and family development, human capital formation and evidence-based policy development in Singapore. It will also add to new knowledge about the impact of early care and education institutions and home environments through development of expanded assessment instruments, information gathering from parents and children, themselves, to gain their perspectives.

Funding Source
NIE

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