Measures to strengthen quality standards in pre-schools

We thank Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong (Enhancements to human capital should start in pre-schools; Feb 20) and Ms Nur Humaira Md Hazin Khan (More checks needed at childcare centres; Feb 23) for their feedback.

We agree with the need to provide holistic care and education for our young children in a safe and nurturing environment.

To improve and ensure more consistent quality standards in our pre-schools, the Early Childhood Development Centres Bill was passed in Parliament on Feb 28. This new law will bring childcare centres and kindergartens under a common regulatory framework.

Under it, all staff in centres will need to be approved by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). Teachers will not only need to attain relevant accredited qualifications, but also be assessed on their track record - especially on child safety.

At the same time, ECDA will continue to perform regulatory visits and unannounced audits to ensure that pre-schools maintain their standards.

Centres have the flexibility to innovate and customise their curriculum to suit the needs of their children. They can also refer to the Ministry of Education's Nurturing Early Learners Framework, where learning through play is a key component.

In addition, ECDA has been working closely with sector partners to attract, retain and develop our teachers. Last October, the Early Childhood Manpower Plan was launched to provide our teachers with better professional and career development, a more supportive working environment, and greater respect and recognition.

These, and earlier manpower initiatives, have led to the salaries of early childhood teachers rising in recent years.

Parents also play a critical role in partnering our teachers. Regardless of whether closed-circuit television cameras are deployed at a centre, a strong relationship of trust between parents and teachers can allow concerns to be raised earlier.

It can also enhance a child's development and ensure a smoother transition between home and the pre-school.

We will continue to review and enhance our policies to ensure a good start for our children.

Esa Masood
Regulation and Standards
Early Childhood Development Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Measures to strengthen quality standards in pre-schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe