All MOE kindergartens to be within primary schools

Move will allow for closer collaboration between pre-schoolers and primary pupils

The Government aims to uplift the preschool sector through expanding the number of MOE Kindergartens, scaling up our collaboration with Anchor Operator Early Year Centres, and establishing the National Institute of Early Childhood Development. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

All Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens will be located within primary schools so that pre-schoolers will have a smoother transition to Primary 1.

The ministry said yesterday this was based on its experience so far - having run 15 kindergartens, including 12 in schools. Having both in one place allows for closer collaboration between pre-schoolers and primary pupils, and is a win-win for both.

During a visit to an MOE kindergarten in Punggol Green Primary yesterday, Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said: "One of the programmes here that I like a lot... has Primary 3 and 4 pupils taking the five- and six-year-olds around the school on a biodiversity trail. The younger kids have somebody to look up to, and the older kids have a sense of responsibility, taking charge and taking care of the kindergarten kids. All this lends to a lot of tacit learning."

MOE launched its kindergartens in 2014, starting with five. It currently runs 15, and will expand to 29 by 2020. It plans to have 50 by 2023, catering to about one in five Singaporeans and permanent residents aged five to six.

Among the existing MOE kindergartens, three are located in public housing estates.

MK@Fernvale Link in Sengkang will move to nearby Fern Green Primary in 2019, while MK@Yishun will move to Huamin Primary in 2020. Details on which primary school MK@Tampines will move to will be revealed later, said MOE.

At a media briefing yesterday, MOE said there are currently no plans to give pre-schoolers priority admission to the primary school they are studying in. But as more such kindergartens are set up, the issue bears looking at.

An MOE spokesman said: "We have had only 15 MOE kindergartens (MKs), of which 12 are sited in schools... To have MKs on a much wider scale and then thinking about what that might mean for admissions, that is something we would have to study quite closely."

MOE kindergarten teachers use two key pedagogies to engage children - purposeful play, where activities are planned to achieve learning outcomes but are still enjoyable, and quality interactions, where teachers use prompts and ask questions that engage children in conversations to help them build on ideas and concepts.

MOE kindergarten staff and parents said there are benefits to the co-location arrangement.

Ms Panmeline Wong, centre head of the MOE kindergarten in Punggol View Primary, said: "There have been good interactions between the older and younger children, with the older ones taking more responsibility and being like the gor gor and jie jie (older brothers and sisters) to the younger ones."

She said about half of the pupils who graduated from the pre-school went to Punggol View Primary.

Housewife Kris Cheong, 39, said she enjoys the convenience of sending her daughter, six, to the MOE kindergarten in West Spring Primary, and her son, eight, to the same primary school.

"I think my daughter will be familiar with the environment and can explore the rest of the facilities more easily before going to P1."

MOE kindergarten fees may be as low as $1.50

Fees at Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens start from as low as $1.50 a month, after subsidies.

This is for Singaporean families with a household income of up to $2,500 per month, who get the highest amount of support under the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS).

The KiFAS subsidy amount depends on the income tier that a family falls under and the fees charged. Parents may be eligible for subsidies of up to 99 per cent of the fees, capped at $170.

Singaporean families with a higher income of $4,500 per month, for instance, pay $75 per month after subsidies.

Those with an income of more than $6,000 do not get subsidies and pay $150 a month for fees this year. This will rise to $160 next year, but is still below the industry median fee of $171.

Increasing the number of MOE kindergartens would lead to more affordable pre-school places provided, the ministry said yesterday.

Children enrolled in kindergartens run by anchor operators, which get government grants and priority in securing sites but must meet fee caps and quality criteria, are also eligible for KiFAS subsidies.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline All MOE kindergartens to be within primary schools. Subscribe