When he first started teaching at a pre-school, even the parents of the children there were curious as to why a man would take up the job.
"Some of them would ask me 'Men can join this job?' or 'Why didn't you teach primary school instead?'" said Mr Mohammad Aizat Hashim, 31, who is now principal at Mosaic Kindergarten.
But he knew early childhood education was his calling, from the first time he tried out the job as a fresh graduate and read to 20 pre-schoolers. Mr Aizat had never stood before so many children on his own previously. He took a deep breath and began reading a story - and the children's gazes never left him.
"That was the moment I knew this was the job I wanted," said Mr Aizat. "They all had eyes on me and were all ears, looking genuinely interested in whatever I was reading."
Yesterday, Mr Aizat received the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Scholarship, given to promising in-service early childhood educators with leadership potential who are pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in early childhood care and education.
In August, he enrolled in a part-time Master of Education (Early Childhood) course at the National Institute of Education.
"I feel that in this industry, we need to raise the level of professionalism among early childhood educators. One way to do that is to do it myself, to set an example for those within my pre-school," he said.
Mr Aizat was one of three scholarship recipients at the ECDA Scholarships and Training Awards Presentation Ceremony 2019 yesterday.
The training awards this year were given to more than 400 students, who want to join the early childhood sector.
Speaking at the event, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said: "While the Government can do more to increase accessibility and affordability, we need your help to provide quality pre-schools for our children.
"At its core, quality is about having good educators. You are our children's first teachers and their parents' trusted partners."
As a male in a female-dominated industry, Mr Aizat faced certain restrictions and challenges.
"We generally avoid routines like showering, so for male teachers we are in charge of mealtimes or story time while another teacher is busy showering the children," said Mr Aizat. "That's how we accommodate each other, and I am blessed to have worked with partners and principals who are understanding."