At least 19 childcare centres and kindergartens run by PCF Sparkletots will be converted to "early- years centres" (EYCs) which admit children aged up to four, unlike most pre-schools that take in children aged up to seven.
PCF Sparkletots is the largest pre-school operator in Singapore and is managed by the PAP Community Foundation.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) and PCF Sparkletots gave details yesterday of which early-years centres will partner the 13 new MOE kindergartens to open in 2019 and 2020. All eligible Singaporean and permanent resident Nursery 2 (N2) children in EYCs will be guaranteed a place in an MOE kindergarten within 1km of the centre.
On average, 60 per cent of places in the kindergarten will be reserved for them.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said at the National Day Rally on Sunday that more EYCs - on top of the first four announced in February - would be set up to address the shortage of pre-school places for children aged up to four.
The first four EYCs - three run by NTUC's My First Skool and one by PCF Sparkletots - are expected to open in Punggol next year. The PCF-run EYC in Punggol North will partner three MOE kindergartens, two to open next year and one in 2020.
Most of PCF Sparkletots EYCs will be in areas with high demand for pre-school services, with eight in Sengkang and four in Yishun.
Kindergartens and partner EYCs
MOE KINDERGARTENS (MKs) TO OPEN IN 2019
•MK in Kranji Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Limbang Blk 543 PCF Sparkletots @ Limbang Blk 786
•MK in Wellington Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Canberra Blk 468D PCF Sparkletots @ Sembawang Blk 507D
•MK in Anchor Green Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang West Blk 303A
•MK in Fernvale Primary with: an EYC (details to be given later)
•MK in Fern Green Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang West Blk 469B
•MK in First Toa Payoh Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Toa Payoh East-Novena Block 6
•MK in Pei Tong Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Bukit Timah Blk 319 PCF Sparkletots @ Clementi Blk 462A
MOE KINDERGARTENS TO OPEN IN 2020
•MK in Naval Base Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Nee Soon South Blk 852 PCF Sparkletots @ Nee Soon South Blk 879
•MK in Huamin Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Nee Soon East Blk 357 PCF Sparkletots @ Nee Soon East Blk 367
•MK in Horizon Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Punggol North (to open in 2018)
•MK in North Vista Primary with: PCF Sparkletots @ Punggol East Blk 103 PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang Central Blk 206A PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang Central Blk 277B
•MK in new primary school along Northshore Drive with an EYC (details to be given later)
•MK in new primary school along Punggol Central with My First Skool along Punggol Drive (likely to open in 2018)
MOE also listed two more EYCs that will partner with two MOE kindergartens in Punggol and Sengkang, with details to be given later.
A spokesman for PCF Sparkletots told The Straits Times that parents are being told of its partnership with MOE, so they can decide whether to enrol their children in the MOE kindergartens, go to other pre-schools or stay on in PCF Sparkletots after N2.
She added: "Due consideration has been given to children who will soon be in their kindergarten years in PCF pre-schools converting to EYCs... These pre-schools will continue to offer K1 and K2 programmes until end-2020 for these older children who choose to remain in PCF Sparkletots."
When asked what this move would mean for teachers in the K1 and K2 classes, she said PCF Sparkletots is the largest pre-school operator here and teachers would be able to continue teaching in the EYCs or take up available teaching positions in its over 340 other pre-schools.
Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min and Mr Teo Ser Luck, MP for Sengkang Central ward in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said the conversion of PCF pre-schools to EYCs will help to alleviate the long waiting lists in pre-schools in their wards.
Mr Teo added: "It's a good coordination of space usage, with EYCs having more space for children aged up to four, and MOE kindergartens having the space in primary schools to take in K1 and K2 kids."
Dr Lam, who is Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, said there is still a need, however, to set up more childcare centres as "the demand will continue to be high due to the many new flats still being built in the constituency."