SINGAPORE - The PAP Community Foundation (PCF) will add 15,000 more places for pre-schoolers in the next five years, by building larger pre-schools and upgrading existing ones.
The PCF - the People's Action Party's charitable arm which runs the Sparkletots pre-schools - will also enhance the learning and development of its educators and staff, and push out more initiatives to support needy students.
Announcing this on Sunday (Sept 9) at the foundation's annual Family Day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that providing affordable and high-quality pre-school education is an important way that the Government, and the PCF, are helping young families to cope with the cost of living.
The PCF also runs Sparkle Care senior care centres to help families with elderly parents, and through Sparkletots and Sparkle Care, both young and old can have opportunities to interact with one another, he said.
"Dual-income families can be particularly confident that their children will be well taken care of when both parents are at work," added PM Lee, the PAP's secretary-general.
"And I hope, with less to worry about, parents will consider having a few more kids and enjoy more family time together."
The PCF is the largest pre-school operator with 360 Sparkletots centres in Singapore, offering 40,000 places. Close to 10,000 of these places were created in the last three years.
The PCF also plans to open two more Sparkle Care centres by the middle of 2019, bringing the total number of senior care centres to five.
Mr Victor Bay, PCF's chief executive, said the foundation is expanding its capacity in early years and senior care.
"We are also creating more opportunities for the young to build stronger bonds with our seniors by organising inter-generational activities at both PCF Sparkletots and PCF Sparkle Care," said Mr Bay.
Madam Leong Ah Nooi, 94, who visits the Sparkle Care @ Yew Tee once a week. said she enjoys the time spent with the Sparkletots kids, as they take part in sing-alongs and art and craft sessions together.
“I’m happy and I’m reminded of my son and grandson when they were children,” she said.
Parents like Mr Mohammad Zulkiffli Abu Bakar, 46, a teacher,said they appreciate the well-rounded education which the PCF Sparkletots preschools provide, and the convenience of having centres located near their homes.
His two daughters, aged 16, and 11, and two sons, aged 14 and eight, have all attended PCF Sparkletots.
His youngest daughter, six, is currently attending PCF Sparkletots @ Kembangan Chai Chee Block 326.
“My kids are academically okay, but some of them are artistically inclined, and there’s an avenue for them to grow their talent,” he added.
Ms Gayathri Suganathan, 35, whose six-year-old daughter is at PCF Sparkletots @ Teck Ghee Block 466, said: “The centre she is studying at offers the option of learning Tamil, which I feel not many private schools in Singapore offer.”
But she hopes the PCF Sparkletots programme can have more vacancies and provision for special needs children, as her five-year-old son has mild attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and has to attend a private school.
As part of Sunday’s event held at Gardens by the Bay, $666,000 was also raised by the PAP’s Members of Parliament and the funds will benefit 21 charities and causes.
The beneficiaries include the Assisi Hospice, Fei Yue Family Service, the Handicaps Welfare Association and the Singapore Cancer Society.