More to be done to ease workload, improve productivity of early childhood educators

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli visiting pre-school Learning Kidz in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A happy educator is linked to a happy child, which is why efforts are being made to help early childhood educators ease their workload and improve productivity.

"I think all of us succeed in our life because of two important people... one called parents and the other is our teachers," Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli told the media on Monday (Aug 29).

"Their welfare has always been a focus of what we do because a happy teacher and a well trained teacher will also mean a happy child and a well developed child," he added.

He was visiting pre-school Learning Kidz in Ang Mo Kio as part of the Early Childhood Development Agency's (ECDA) Teachers' Day celebration for pre-school educators.

Through the Early Childhood Industry Digital Plan, ECDA has been working with operators to help educators boost productivity.

Since the $4 million Early Childhood Digitalisation Grant was launched in October last year, half of all pre-school operators have adopted digital solutions, including a Pre-school Management System which covers processes such as temperature and attendance-taking.

More solutions will be added progressively, including a digital learning platform for educators, ECDA said.

Pre-school teacher Keh Ling Yue, 34, said the use of digital solutions in Learning Kidz has made things easier for her. Previously, she updated parents on their child's progress through a book. The centre now uses an app to engage parents and provide pictures and updates during the day.

"We take on many different roles as childhood educators, and one of the more important ones is communicating with parents. They want the best for their child and they are interested in knowing what they learn in school," she said.

ECDA is also working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council to promote programmes that support the well-being of educators and enhance work safety.

To date, more than 5,500 pre-school staff from almost 90 pre-schools have participated in HPB's workplace health programmes, which include physical activities and workshops covering topics like nutrition and mental wellness.

WSH Council will also be organising workshops in November, where pre-school operators will be trained on how to identify and manage safety and health risks.

With the Covid-19 situation stabilising, the wearing of masks has become optional in most indoor settings from Monday.

Early educator Sarah Rivera, 39, said that while taking off her mask will need some getting used to, she knows it is good for the children to be able to interact and learn without that restriction.

On Monday, Mr Masagos, who is also Second Minister for Health, urged everyone, especially teachers and children, to balance the need of having their masks off in school for necessary development and staying guarded against any virus.

On the topic of wage review for teachers and pre-school educators, he said the issue is still being reviewed. Salaries for teachers and allied educators were last reviewed in 2015.

"It definitely has to be competitive enough to retain the talent and attract new talent into the sector," he added.

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