Parliament: Locals make up 6 in 10 of mother tongue language teachers in pre-schools

The Government hopes to attract more mother tongue teachers to the sector, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling.
The Government hopes to attract more mother tongue teachers to the sector, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Locals currently make up six in 10 of mother tongue language teachers in pre-schools, and the Government will continue to attract more of such teachers to the sector, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling.

She was responding to Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who voiced concern that a sizeable proportion of foreign mother tongue language teachers in pre-schools could affect young children's learning of the languages,

This is because foreign teachers could have limited understanding of local culture and context, or speak in different accents, Dr Intan said in Parliament on Monday (Nov 6).

Ms Low said the number of local mother tongue language teachers in pre-schools has grown by 35 per cent from 2015, to about 3,300 today.

She also listed several initiatives rolled out by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and Ministry of Education (MOE) to grow the pool of local pre-school teachers.

These measures include expanding the places for early childhood diploma courses at polytechnics, which have more than doubled from 380 slots in 2015 to 675 in 2016.

Since 2016, students who wish to become mother tongue language preschool teachers can also pursue specialised tracks at the polytechnics.

Those looking to switch careers to the pre-school sector can receive subsidies, salary grants and training allowances under the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP).

More than 250 mid-career entrants have joined the sector between 2015 and 2016 via the PCP, Ms Low added.

It is also possible for local primary school teachers to switch to the pre-school sector if they meet training requirements, for instance by attending bridging programmes, she said in response to a suggestion from Dr Intan.

"(The MOE and ECDA) is committed to exploring all possible avenues for (augmenting) our pool of local mother tongue language teachers," said Ms Low.