$3 billion budget for preschool sector

$3 billion budget for preschool sector

The Singapore government has just announced that it will double its spending on the preschool sector in the next five years to more than $3 billion.

$3 billion budget for preschool sectorThe Budget 2013 brings with it many incentives for the economy and Singaporeans. One of the major sectors that will see a significant increase in spending is Education; primarily preschool education.

Doubling spending

In his speech Monday morning, DPM Tharman outlined how the government plans to  double its spending on the preschool sector over the next five years to more than $3 billion.

The money will be used to enhance the industry's capacity, quality of teaching and best practices while keeping costs affordable and signals the government’s continued efforts to provide more opportunities for children in low and middle income families to get a quality education.

According to DPM Tharman, the move is part of efforts to improve social mobility and level the playing field for those children who come from disadvantaged families.

Mr Tharman, said, "Meritocracy alone will not assure us of this. We therefore want to do more, starting from early in our children's lives, to give the best leg-up to those who start with a disadvantage. We cannot change the fact that children have different family backgrounds that bring very different advantages and disadvantages. But we want to find every way, at the pre-school and primary school levels, to help our children from poorer or less stable families to develop confidence and the self-belief that gives them aspirations of their own, and to help them catch up when they fall behind."

Measures to look forward to

Some of the measures that were outlined during the budget include:

  • More pre-schools being built closer to homes and workplaces to make it easier on working parents
  • More operators will be brought into the Anchor Operator Scheme, which currently only have two operators who control the mass market preschool sector here.
  • Creating 16,000 more preschool places by 2017
  • Salary grants to anchor operators will be increased to attract good teachers with qualifications
  • More money will go into training teachers by providing them with scholarships and training grants to upgrade their skills
  • MOE will be setting up a few kindergartens to develop best practices that can be used as a scale and guide across the sector
  • Development of a new autonomous agency, the Early Childhood Development Agency

Thoughts from the preschool sector

The response from the preschool industry have been positive with many applauding the steps that the government will take especially in regards to the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) working together.

Forina Ng, principal of PCF Cheng San-Seletar, told Channel News Asia, "With MOE and MSF working closely hand in hand, we hope it will bring out more benefits to help lower-income families and to solve the issues of parents going to this agency and the other agency for help."

Principal of Ascension Kindergarten, Diana Seet-Swee adds, "It has been a long time. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (now known as MSF) and MOE have been running independently although they are looking after the same group of children from aged three to six. By combining the two agencies together, I can see more benefits unfolding.

"For example, I do know that parents, other than a three-hour programme, are looking a little bit more at after-school activities of which kindergartens are now not able to run. Hopefully when the two agencies come together, they are better able to meet the parents' needs with a three-hour programme and maybe a little more after-school care."

Netizens response

After posting the news on our site, our readers have responded with mainly positive feedback. Here are some of their comments.

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Andrea Kwan: Happy to hear it. It's time they really recognize the efforts and the dedication of all pre school teachers. They play such an important role but are so under appreciated. I heard of some pre school teachers who do not have the resources to buy those big story books so they photocopy and enlarge it and coloured it themselves till 1plus in the morning. And they are not even recognised on teachers day. All those best teacher awards given out by MOE excludes the entire pre school sector.

Elysa Cheng: Great to hear of such a great piece of news but too bad, my kids are too big to benefit from this. Anyway, many other young families will be blessed from now onwards.

June Lim: At the same time, they should also keep in check the schools that are abusing the subsidies. My friend just told me that her child's school is rising its prices in line with the subsidies so she has not gotten any savings. Also, many schools price their half-day and full-day programmes such that for locals it's definitely more worth it to take the full-day whether or not they need it. It costs the same for an individual but double the amount of subsidies from the government, which is ultimately eating into public funds.
 

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Written by

Wafa Marican

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