NDR 2019: More preschool subsidies as income ceiling raised from $7,500 to $12,000
In his NDR 2019 speech on 18 August 2019, PM Lee Hsien Loong unveiled plans to make preschool education more affordable...
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled plans to make preschool education more affordable in his National Day Rally (NDR 2019) speech on 18 August 2019, with preschool subsidies enhanced and the Government expected to double its spending on early-childhood education.
PM Lee announced that Government will raise the monthly income ceiling for additional subsidies from $7,500 to $12,000. There will also be an increase in the amount of the subsidies (details haven’t been revealed yet).
This means that 30,000 more households will qualify for the subsidies starting 2020.
Most of us parents can relate to what PM Lee said, “For middle-income parents, pre-school fees can take up a chunk of their household budget, especially if two or more kids are in pre-school at the same time.”
PM Lee emphasised that “pre-schools should be like housing and healthcare”.
“For housing we have HDB. For healthcare, we have the restructured hospitals. Similarly, for preschool, we should have good quality, government-supported choices available to all Singaporeans,” he pointed out.
Currently, even though primary school education is almost free (with the exception of after-school student care), preschool education is still an expensive phase for most parents.
The Government wants to make preschool education in Singapore more affordable and accessible for parents, since early years and a good preschool education make a big difference to a child’s development.
PM Lee shared that the government was looking to bring down full-day preschool expenses to around SGD 300 a month, which is roughly how much primary school plus after-school student care costs now.
Also, currently, just over 50% of all preschools are government-supported. There are plans to increase the number of government-supported pre-schools to 80% over time.
Singapore government currently spends $1 billion a year on childhood education. This amount will more than double over the next few years, said PM Lee.
Mr Lee also announced the expansion of the KidSTART programme to another 5,000 children over the next three years.
For the info, KidSTART is a programme (which was rolled out in 2016) for low-income and vulnerable young children, which enables them to have a good start in life. About 1,000 children have benefited from the programme so far.
KidSTART mainly consists of three components – home visits, weekly community-based weekly community-based playgroup sessions, and enhanced preschool support.
The eligibility criteria of KidSTART is:
- Singapore Citizen children aged up to 6 years old
- Low-income household
- Residing in one of the pilot regions (Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay and Geylang Serai)
These reforms should come as a relief for most Singaporean parents, who have frequently cited the cost of raising a child in Singapore as one of the reasons for not having more children.
With this, PM Lee hopes to see an improvement in Singapore’s fertility rate as well.
“I will be counting the number of babies born, and hoping for the number to go up,” he joked.