Pre-school teachers will soon be equipped with even more age-specific skills and knowledge.
The new National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) has announced that it will offer the Diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and Temasek Polytechnic (TP) next year.
A curated set of core modules will give trainee pre-school teachers a deeper understanding of the early childhood development needs of a wide age range, with a strong focus on practice-based learning.
For example, practicums and internships will be based on what the students are studying at that point.
Mrs Loke-Yeo Teck Yong, director of the NIEC, explained that during their first practicum of 100 hours, students will work with children under three.
In their second practicum of 200 hours, they will work with children aged three to six. Currently, there is no such age-specific division.
"We want to make sure they are going out at the appropriate junctures where they can exercise their theory, and are able to then develop their competencies to work with young children and their parents," said Mrs Loke.
She said the set of core modules will help aspiring teachers stay "relevant to the sector needs".
NP currently offers a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and a Diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education, while TP offers a Diploma in Early Childhood Studies.
The new course will replace those three, though current students will remain on those courses.
While the existing diploma courses in NP and TP do have workplace exposure for the students, the new diploma will make its structure the same across both schools.
The Diploma in Chinese Studies (Early Childhood) and Diploma in Tamil Studies with Early Education will continue to be offered at NP, under the NIEC banner.
The ECDE diploma's first intake will be 700 students, comparable to the combined intake of the existing diploma courses. Entry requirements will be the same.
The NIEC will cater to about 60 per cent of trainee pre-school teachers here, consolidating early childhood programmes offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), NP, TP and the Seed Institute.
Its staff count will be made up of about 100 early childhood educators from the four institutions.
While those enrolled in NIEC courses in the polytechnics and ITE are recognised as NIEC students, they will still participate in co-curricular activities and student support services on their respective campuses.
Ms Wong Peng Peng, 52, centre supervisor for PCF Sparkletots @ Woodlands Block 801, said: "The early childhood industry is growing, and the programme can attract people who are passionate about nurturing children to join. We have a shortage of teachers, so this programme could boost the numbers."