Young families in Punggol will soon have more pre-school options, with three more Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens to be set up there next year.
These pre-schools will be part of a new model in which children from nearby childcare centres are guaranteed places there.
The ministry said these moves are to cater to the high demand for pre-school services in Punggol. At 11 per cent, Punggol has the highest proportion of residents aged below five among all the towns.
The announcement yesterday comes three weeks after the Government said the town will have two more mega childcare centres by the middle of next year, with each offering 1,000 places, believed to be the largest for a childcare centre here.
The three new MOE kindergartens will be co-located with schools - Oasis Primary, Punggol Cove Primary and Waterway Primary.
They will each have about 240 places, a four-hour kindergarten programme and before- and after-school care, up to 7pm.
PROVIDING QUALITY EDUCATION
With this collaboration, PCF Sparkletots can focus all its resources on providing affordable, quality and accessible pre-school education for children till they complete N2.
PCF CHIEF EXECUTIVE VICTOR BAY
From 2019, all eligible Singaporean Nursery 2 (N2) children at four upcoming "early years centres" in Punggol will be guaranteed a Kindergarten 1 (K1) place in one of the three new MOE kindergartens or an existing one co-located with Punggol View Primary.
There are one to two MOE kindergartens designated for each of the four early years centres.
These centres - run by NTUC First Campus' My First Skool and PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots - will admit children of up to four years of age, unlike most childcare centres that admit children aged up to seven.
Parents of N2 children in these centres can choose whether to accept the K1 place offered. Each MOE kindergarten will also have at least 20 per cent of its K1 places set aside for children who are not from these centres.
When asked if this partnership model will be implemented in other areas, Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said: "We will wait and see the results of this new pilot, let it evolve and see what we can do even better for young children."
Mrs Loke-Yeo Teck Yong, divisional director for education services at MOE, said this model will enable the early years centres to take in more children aged two months to four years, as programmes for older children are offered elsewhere.
The operators of these centres said this model allows them to focus on serving younger children.
PCF chief executive Victor Bay said: "With this collaboration, PCF Sparkletots can focus all its resources on providing affordable, quality and accessible pre-school education for children till they complete N2."
Parents said they welcomed the initiative.
Ms Cleo Zhuo, 33, who runs a wedding card business and has a 13-month-old son, said she may consider enrolling him in one of the early years centres when it opens next year.
"It would be convenient since we won't need to look for a kindergarten," she said.
When asked whether she was concerned that her child might have to adjust to a new pre-school environment when he is five, she said: "I think it will be okay. Kids should learn to adapt anyway."
Registration for K1 admission next year to the new MOE kindergartens and the 15 existing ones will take place in April.
For more information, go to moe.gov.sg/moekindergarten