No Child’s Play – Transformation of the Early Childhood Industry
The Ministry of Social and Family Development had recently announced new initiatives to transform the early childhood sector to better support young families and give every child an opportunity for a good head start in life.
One of the initiatives highlighted includes The Early Childhood Industry Transformation Map (ITM), a roadmap to steer the early childhood sector towards innovation and productivity, and to cater to rising demands for quality early childhood services. The Ministry will also collaborate with its partners to strengthen the career prospects of their teachers and leaders to enhance the provision of Mother Tongue Languages (MTL).
Closing the widening gap for trained early childhood educators, and the availability of places for children will be foremost in its plans. With more dual-income families and working elderly grandparents, the demand for preschool services has increased and an expected 20,000 positions are waiting to be filled by year 2020. The government estimates that 40,000 new full-day preschool places will be made available by 2023, including those in the new AOP Early Years Centres and MOE Kindergartens.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is studying and introducing innovative services to better meet the needs of parents and children, and one such innovation is the partnering of the Early Years Centres with Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens for early years services, and a smooth transition to a nearby MOE kindergarten (MK) later.
It is also taking steps to uplift and grow the profession of early childhood educators, with a focus on upgrading skills, quality training, and the creation of the new National Institute of Early Childhood (NIEC) which will be operational from 2019. The government hopes to attract more people to join the industry especially PMETS, retirees and stay-at-home mothers, retain skilled and trained early childhood professionals, and provide stronger career prospects and increase competitive remuneration.
Working to improve productivity and simplify operations, ECDA encourages preschools to adopt technology such as the SMART solutions programme. The implementation of SMART can help ease administrative workload and streamline work processes so that educators can spend quality time on child development and better curriculum planning.
With these measures and initiatives in place, the future of Singapore’s children are assured and the landscape of the early childhood industry exciting and transformative.