More gain early entry to polytechnic courses for pre-school teachers

Pupils from Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru PAP Community Foundation kindergarten exercising in class.
Pupils from Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru PAP Community Foundation kindergarten exercising in class. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - More young Singaporeans have been able to secure spots for pre-school teacher training early, after the polytechnics were given greater flexibility to admit them via a discretionary route.

About 600 students applied for the diploma programmes in early childhood care and education which Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic offer, through the direct polytechnic admission (DPA) exercise.

Of these, more than 300 applicants have been given places in the courses. This is the highest number of offers made for the early childhood courses through the DPA, which allows polytechnics to select students based on criteria other than academic results, such as their suitability for certain courses and portfolio.

From this year, both polytechnics can admit up to half of their intakes for early childhood courses in the DPA, up from a cap of 30 per cent for other courses.

This comes amid efforts in recent years by the Government to attract and retain pre-school teachers with incentives such as better pay and training.

These students will also each be receiving the Early Childhood Development Agency's training award worth up to $40,000.

Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah said the higher interest in the early childhood sector is "heartening", given the shortage of such educators here.

She was speaking to reporters on Wednesday at the launch of the revamped internship scheme for the first batch of 24 Ngee Ann Polytechnic students training to be early childhood teachers.

In September, they will be going on their internships which will last 5-and-a-half months, almost twice the length of existing stints. They will also be assigned to mentors with at least three years of work experience in the sector, who are certified teachers by ECDA.

The initiative is part of SkillsFuture, a national effort to integrate education, training and career progression. Part of the plans involve implementing internships that have clearer learning goals and a structured curriculum set by institutions and industry partners.

Ms Indranee also told reporters that Ngee Ann Polytechnic will be setting up an Academy for Early Childhood Education to train both fresh school-leavers and those who are already in the sector.

The academy, which will start next year, will pool together existing part-time and full-time programmes in early childhood education that the polytechnic offers.

It will develop more courses in the next three years, on topics such as pedagogy, languages, developmental needs and early care, and leadership.