SINGAPORE - Pre-school principals and senior teachers can go on overseas study trips and receive cash incentives, when they are selected to take part in a new three-year Professional Development Programme for Leaders.
It will equip participants with support to lead their centres in quality practices in organisational and curriculum leadership. They will be given a range of opportunities to learn, such as through training, professional sharing with other pre-school leaders and learning journeys.
It was launched on Friday (Oct 6) by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee at the Early Childhood Conference. More than 1,200 pre-school educators attended the annual event, organised by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and held at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Mr Lee also announced other initiatives, such as a call for more people in the pre-school sector to join the ECDA Fellows programme, and a guide for educarers who work with younger children.
These are the latest developments in the Government's push to enhance the career prospects for early childhood professionals and raise the quality of the pre-school sector.
"Our profession needs to grow and develop, so we can play our part in nurturing our future generation," Mr Lee told the audience at the conference. "As educators, you can certainly look forward to even stronger support at every stage of your career."
The Professional Development Programme for Leaders caters to centre leaders, who oversee the overall management of a pre-school, and "lead teachers" who are senior teachers that typically drive the pre-school's teaching and learning approaches, and take on active roles in the mentoring of new teachers.
There are existing professional development programmes for other pre-school teachers and for educarers who work with younger children aged up to four.
Participants in the new programme for leaders will go on a Government-funded overseas study trip to learn international best practices. They will also receive cash incentives of up to $15,000 in total, with the completion of "programme and service milestones" each year, and they can continue to work at their existing centres and earn a salary.
About 400 people are expected to take part in the new programme over the next four years. Candidates need to be nominated by their employers and assessed by ECDA. Nominations for the first batch are now open till Dec 8, with the programme scheduled to begin in the first half of 2018.
WANTED: NEW ECDA FELLOWS
Mr Lee also announced the extension of an existing ECDA Fellows Programme to new applicants. First introduced in 2015, the programme recognises experienced early childhood leaders with exemplary leadership and expertise. It gives them opportunities to drive quality improvements in the sector and support the development of the fraternity of pre-school leaders.
ECDA Fellows take on sector-level roles such as leading master classes and workshops, mentoring centre leaders and senior teachers beyond their centres, and guiding centres to deliver quality curricula.
They also benefit from many professional development opportunities, and receive an annual allowance of $9,000 in recognition of their contributions.
There are currently 14 ECDA Fellows, and the next round of application is open till Oct 31.
BEST PRACTICES FOR EDUCARERS
In addition, ECDA has developed an Early Years Development Framework Educarers' Guide which comprises best practices, tips and activities on child development for children aged up to four.
It contains resources to help educarers strengthen their interactions with younger children, and support centre leaders as they lead their teams in reflecting on and applying best practices.