Improve after-school care centres

The relevant ministries should consider supporting young dual-income families with school-going children by setting up more after-school care centres.

While this is already in place for some schools, a proper system to ensure good care for the students has yet to be implemented.

Child development officers recruited at some of these centres are usually in-between jobs or under-qualified.

Safety rules are sometimes not in place, and the minimum number of students per class is often left up to the vendors who provide such services.

Here are some suggestions the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Social and Family Development can consider.

•Provide a subsidy for each child sent to an after-school care centre, provided they do not have a domestic helper at home and both parents are working.

•Second trained primary school teachers to these after-school care centres. There are many advantages for trained teachers to take up this role. There is no lesson preparation needed and the work hours are almost fixed. This can solve the problem of the oversupply of teachers due to the falling birth rate.

•Monitor after-school care centres by clusters to ensure that the standard operating procedures are strictly adhered to.

•Support after-school care centres in building up their niche areas and equip them with dance studios or pottery studios, for example, or allow the use of school fields for coaches to train students.

With an increase in the ministries' support, after-school care centres can do much more than just babysitting and making sure the homework is done.

In developing our after-school care centres, we could potentially rely less on foreign domestic helpers, free up more weekend time for bonding between parents and children and reduce the number of latchkey children.

Joyce Anne Chia (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Improve after-school care centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe