Budget 2013: More than $3 billion to improve quality of pre-school sector

The Government will more than double its spending on the pre-school sector over the next five years to more than $3 billion, announced Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Singapore Budget 2013 speech on Monday.

The extra funding in Singapore Budget 2013 will go to expanding the number of pre-schools and improving the quality of pre-school education. For parents, this will mean having more pre-school centres closer to their homes and workplaces and better quality teachers in these schools.

More operators will also join the anchor operators scheme resulting in 16,000 more pre-school places by 2017, he said.

Currently, there are two anchor operators - the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) My First Skool. Their job is to provide good-quality and affordable pre-school programmes. In return, they get recurrent grants from the Government to help lower operating costs.

To improve the quality of pre-school education, more money will be pumped in to teacher training and remuneration. Teachers can look forward to salary grants, a wider range of scholarships and training grants.

A new autonomous agency called the Early Childhood Development Agency will also be set up to drive improvements across the sector, while the Education Ministry will set up a few kindergartens. DPM Tharman also announced more support for disadvantaged students in his Singapore Budget 2013 speech. The learning support programme, which is for younger primary school pupils, will be extended to other levels.

The number of student-based care centres will also be significantly expanded to provide more support for children outside school hours. In addition, MOE will develop more online materials as an additional support for students.

Two funds will also be topped up and extended to more schools. The Opportunity Fund, which can be used to fund overseas learning trips, will be topped up by $72 million and can be used by polytechnics while the Edusave Endowment Fund will get a $300 million top-up. All these new measures will cost the Government about $120 million a year.

For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2013, click here for ST's Big Story coverage.

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