Singapore Budget 2015: New ECDA grant for pre-schools to take in interns

SINGAPORE - Aspiring pre-school teachers in the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will soon get more work experience through longer and more structured internships.

These internships will last 5 1/2 months, almost twice the length of existing stints. Students will also be assigned to mentors with at least three years of work experience in the sector, who are certified teachers by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law, said in Parliament on Friday that childcare centres and kindergartens which host full-time students pursuing early childhood studies can from this year tap on a new ECDA grant.

This applies to students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and ITE.

The Early Childhood Capability Grant will support the cost of deploying mentors, providing stipends and other materials. Operators on the programme will receive $1,700 for each intern they take in, to recognise the extra work put in by senior teachers who mentor students, or to hire relief staff to cover their duties.

They will also be given $200 per intern for teaching materials and resources required for the interns to complete projects as part of their course.

ECDA will also co-fund half of the minimum monthly stipends of students under these enhanced internships - $600 for those from ITE and $700 for polytechnic interns.

Some 24 final-year students on the early childhood teaching track in Ngee Ann Polytechnic's child psychology and early education course will be the first to go through these stints in September. A total of 400 students are expected to go on these revamped internships by 2019.

"We need more companies to support enhanced internships from polytechnics and ITE, to provide meaningful work assignments and mentoring by experienced professionals," said Ms Indranee.

The initiative is part of SkillsFuture, a national effort to integrate education, training and career progression. Part of the plans involve implementing internships that have clearer learning goals and a structured curriculum set by institutions and industry partners. Over the next two years, two-thirds of polytechnic courses and half of the ITE courses will introduce such internships.

ateng@sph.com.sg