When Ms Shazadi Begum Mohamed Siddiqe, 32, started her career as a pre-school teacher fresh out of school in 2007, she found it tough going.
With little experience and no mentor to guide her, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Early Childhood Education graduate struggled to manage the children and their parents.
"But I rolled my sleeves up and learnt through training and experience," she said.
She also somehow found time to earn a degree in early childhood education. She is now the principal of a My First Skool pre-school in Sembawang.
The Government is now committing $5 million over the next three years to two schemes to help early childhood educators like Ms Shazadi develop into quality leaders in the sector.
She joined 180 others yesterday in one of the schemes - the Professional Development Programme for Leaders.
They were selected by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to be in the first batch of a three-year, 180-hour structured programme that caters to centre leaders who oversee the overall management of a pre-school.
The programme, which includes compulsory modules, projects and an overseas study trip, is also for senior teachers that typically drive the pre-school's teaching and learning approaches, and take on active roles in the mentoring of new teachers.
Participants will continue to work while enrolled in the programme but they will also receive $15,000 over the three years as they complete each year and cross other milestones.
They also have to remain with their nominating organisation for six months after the end of each programme year in order to qualify for the funding. In Ms Shazadi's case, it is My First Skool.
The other scheme is the ECDA Fellows Programme. Experienced early childhood leaders, such as pre-school centre principals with exemplary leadership skills and expertise, are identified to mentor the professional growth of leaders in the early childhood sector.
Yesterday, 22 ECDA Fellows were appointed to the role, including all 14 ECDA Fellows from the pioneer batch in 2015. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee had announced both schemes in October last year.
At the appointment ceremony, Mr Lee said: "Leaders bring out the best in others, rallying them around a clear vision and direction for the team or organisation.
"Our work to build and strengthen the professional competencies of our leaders in the early childhood sector must continue, so that leaders can work with fellow teachers to provide a good start for every child."