Initiatives to provide quality, affordable pre-school services

We thank Mr Gerard Tan Boon Heng (Align pre-school fees with those for primary schools; March 22) and Dr Rebecca Chan (The next step to improve pre-schools; March 25) for their suggestions.

The Government is committed to enhancing the quality and affordability of pre-school services. In recent years, more places have been provided by anchor and partner operators, which are subjected to fee caps and quality requirements, as well as by the Ministry of Education.

Today, close to half of Singaporean children enrolled in childcare centres are benefiting from these schemes. This is a significant increase from about 20 per cent in 2012.

Subsidies are also available to help parents with the cost of childcare or kindergarten services. With these subsidies, low-income families with children attending anchor operator childcare centres or kindergartens pay as little as a few dollars a month for pre-school.

Last year, the government expenditure on these subsidies amounted to about $400 million, a significant increase from about $240 million in 2012.

There are also other initiatives and subsidies to help parents manage the costs of raising their children, such as tax benefits and medical grants.

The Baby Bonus and Child Development Account can also be used to offset pre-school fees.

In addition to making pre-school affordable, more is also being done to raise the quality of pre-schools - through the new Early Childhood Development Centres Bill, and by encouraging more pre-schools to come on board the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (Spark) quality assurance certification scheme.

Today, one in three pre-schools is Spark-certified.

We will continue to review and enhance our initiatives to provide quality and affordable pre-school services, so as to give every child a good start.

Esa Masood

Director

Policy and Sector Funding

Early Childhood Development Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Initiatives to provide quality, affordable pre-school services'. Print Edition | Subscribe