Reflecting the Government's increased support for the pre-school sector, mid-career entrants enrolled in professional early childhood certificate or diploma courses have increased by more than 70 per cent over the last five years, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.
He was responding to Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan on what is being done to recruit more pre-school teachers to have a total of 20,000 by 2020, as well as to attract more men to the predominantly-female sector.
Singapore plans to have 40,000 new full-day pre-school places by 2023 - adding to 170,000 now.
There are about 18,000 early childhood educators currently and around three-quarters of those joining the sector are mid-career entrants, Mr Lee said.
Less than 1 per cent of pre-school teachers are male.
Mr Lee noted that the National Institute of Early Childhood Development - established last May - plans to admit about 700 students into its inaugural diploma programme this year, which is double the total intake for such programmes in 2015.
The new Early Childhood Development and Education diploma replaces existing programmes at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.
Potential mid-career entrants can also avail themselves of the Professional Conversion Programme and Place and Train Programme, under which they can earn a salary while undergoing on-the-job coaching and classroom-based teaching or training, said Mr Lee.
He added that mindsets have to be changed in order to attract more people to the pre-school sector.
"There are certain common misconceptions that an early childhood educator is a nanny or a caregiver rather than a teacher. There is also the mindset that women are more suited to the pre-school sector... But men can also equally play a role in that regard, " he said.
"So we launched a national campaign last year... to (help people) have a more accurate view."
Correction note: In an earlier version, we reported that the new Early Childhood Development and Education diploma replaces existing programmes at Nanyang Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic. It should be Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic. We are sorry for the error.