PARLIAMENT:Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

Bringing arts and culture to more pre-schoolers

Children playing at an art installation at the National Museum, which was among the many activities in the Children's Season 2015. This year, 55 pre-schools will offer NAC and ECDA's arts education programme
Children playing at an art installation at the National Museum, which was among the many activities in the Children's Season 2015. This year, 55 pre-schools will offer NAC and ECDA's arts education programme. PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

More children will be exposed to the arts through professional artists and instructors, as the National Arts Council (NAC) and Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) expand an arts education programme to a total of 55 pre-schools, up from the current 19.

Separately, a pre-school in Punggol that opens in June will focus largely on the arts as a pilot with the NAC, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng said.

The new pre-school is "a partnership between artists and teachers, as they seek to incorporate the arts more holistically in the pre-school environment", he told the House during the debate on his ministry's spending plans.

Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) and Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC) had asked the ministry about its plans to make arts and culture accessible to young children.

Mr Baey said he agreed that children should be exposed to arts and culture at an early age, as it helps develop creativity and confidence.

The arts education programme by NAC, a statutory board under the ministry, and ECDA, which comes under the ministries of Education as well as Social and Family Development, started in 19 pre-schools last year to promote arts education in the early childhood sector.

Children are exposed to the arts through age-appropriate performances, and have opportunities to try out various art forms, such as dance, music and visual arts. They will also visit arts venues such as museums and artists' studios.

The 55 pre-schools to offer the arts programme this year are run by the Ministry of Education and two anchor operators - PAP Community Foundation and Metropolitan YMCA's MY World. Anchor operators get government grants and priority in securing Housing Board sites for centres, but are required to keep school fees low for parents.

The new pre-school in Edgefield Plain is run by NTUC My First Skool, another anchor operator. At this centre, artists and pre-school teachers will jointly develop and teach the curriculum.

Said Mr Baey: "The new curriculum aims to provide an even more comprehensive and integrated art and music experience for our young children."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Bringing arts and culture to more pre-schoolers'. Print Edition | Subscribe