SINGAPORE: The PAP Community Foundation (PCF) is gearing up for all its 330 kindergarten and childcare centres to be quality—stamped by the Education Ministry.
PCF CEO Tay Swee Yee made the announcement at the PCF Family Day on Sunday.
The PCF will also work closely with the government to raise the quality of pre—school education for the mass market while keeping costs affordable, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the same event.
Currently, PCF holds half the market share in the kindergarten sector.
PM Lee said that it is very important that children have a good foundation in their early years.
"The PCF has made a difference to many Singaporeans’ lives. First of all, the kindergartens have provided good and affordable pre—school education to many children. I think it’s very important that the children get a good foundation in their young years and PCF provides this in an affordable way. They are run as non—profit operations," he said at the PCF Family Day held at the Singapore Zoo.
"The kindergartens have always tried to upgrade in terms of teachers’ training, in terms of curriculum development, in terms of the quality of education that is provided to the kids —— not books to learn for Primary One, but fun, games, socialising, physical skills —— singing, dancing, having fun," he added.
PCF Exco Chairman Lawrence Wong, who is also Senior Minister of State for Education, said PCF aims to get all of its centres accredited by the Singapore Pre—school Accreditation Framework (SPARK).
SPARK is a quality assurance framework introduced by the Ministry of Education to raise the quality of pre—schools in Singapore.
Since the framework was introduced in January last year, only one in 10 centres has been accredited.
"We are now in the process where we are going through all of our centres, making sure that first of all, before they even embark on the SPARK accreditation process, they understand what the criteria for the SPARK accreditation are," Mr Wong said.
Where safety is concerned, Mr Wong gave the assurance that the well—being of students is PCF’s top priority. He said the PCF is saddened by the recent case of a five—year—old child who was allegedly ill—treated by one of its kindergarten teachers.
"We make it very clear to our teachers the sorts of professional conduct that we expect of them and we make sure there are safeguards also to ensure the welfare and safety of our children," said Mr Wong.
"If something happens, and there is indeed teacher misconduct, then we will investigate and if need be, disciplinary action will be taken in a very firm manner."
PCF says that as a charity, its aim is not to grow profits but to serve the community better. So it is open to the idea of partnering with more private operators to grow the pre—school segment.
Besides keeping pre—school education affordable, PCF also extends help to the needy.
The PCF has raised more than $660,000 this year through efforts by Ministers and MPs in the Central district. The funds were disbursed to 22 charitable organisations.
On Sunday, PM Lee also gave out the PCF—Polytechnic study awards, worth S$2,000 each, to 49 polytechnic students.
The award aims to support second— and third—year students in their tuition fees and to motivate them to continue with their good work.
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