Pre-school educators’ pay to rise by 10-30% amid review of working conditions

The starting salaries for fresh graduates joining the five anchor pre-school operators will rise from about $2,600 to at least $2,800 from next year. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE – Early childhood educators in government-supported pre-schools will see a 10 to 30 per cent increase in their salaries over the next two years, as well as a review to improve their working conditions.

This will boost their monthly salaries to between $2,900 and $6,600 by 2024, depending on their experience, skills and work performance.

The starting salaries for fresh graduates joining the five anchor operators will also rise from about $2,600 to at least $2,800 from 2023, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said on Saturday.

Speaking at the Early Childhood Celebrations event held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, he said: “This is a significant move to allow pre-schools to better attract and retain talent to support the sector’s continued growth in the coming years.”

The five anchor operators come under a funding scheme that helps them improve access to good-quality and affordable early childhood care and education, especially for children from lower-income or disadvantaged backgrounds.

They are PCF Sparkletots, My First Skool, M.Y World, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Pre-School.

Mr Masagos said there are about 23,000 pre-school educatorsin Singapore, but the sector will still need to attract over 3,500 more by 2025.

He said: “The demands on early childhood educators have become greater and more complex, requiring a wider range of competencies and deeper skills.

“For instance, as we enhance inclusion in pre-schools, our educators need to acquire new skill sets to manage a classroom of diverse learners, including those with additional needs.”

Mr Masagos added that educators’ salaries have risen in tandem with their larger job responsibilities and deeper skills requirements. “The average salaries for educators in government-supported pre-schools have increased by around 20 per cent from 2018 to 2021, outpacing that of the general market,” he said, adding that more can be done.

In August, the Ministry of Education announced that about 35,000 teachers in the mainstream school system will get pay hikes of between 5 and 10 per cent as part of efforts to attract and retain talent.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in October that the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is separately conducting a salary review for early childhood educators in government-supported pre-schools. It is expected to be completed by end-2022.

Mr Masagos also said work will begin on improving educators’ well-being and working conditions. It will include reviewing the need for centres to open on Saturdays in relation to teachers’ work-life balance and growing a pool of relief teachers to make it easier for teachers to take leave.

He added that the review resulted from a poll of educators conducted in the last few weeks.

He noted that some said it was challenging to spend time with loved ones when they had to work after hours or on weekends. Others felt they were not adequately recognised as professionals or for their efforts in nurturing children.

Addressing the teachers, Mr Masagos said: “Many of you also pointed out that you found yourself having to manage competing demands from children, parents, other colleagues and even the Early Childhood Development Agency.”

He added that their concerns have been heard, and ECDA is engaging parents, operators and educators to work on solutions.

“Centres, parents and educators have different needs. We will need everyone’s support and understanding as we review the ideas and find ways to address and balance these needs,” he said.

“For example, parents who tap Saturday pre-school services today will have to make alternative arrangements if centres do not open on Saturday.”

Mr Masagos added that while solutions are in the pipeline, there are some things that can be done now, such as parents showing more appreciation for pre-school teachers.

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