MOE and MCYS to set up a Committee to oversee pre-school sector enhancements
by Monica Kotwani
Singapore's Education and Community Development ministries have set up a Committee to oversee enhancements to pre-school education.
The enhancements will include updating the Kindergarten Curriculum Framework.
The committee will be co-chaired by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth & Sports Chan Chun Sing.
Members of the committee include Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for MCYS, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State (designate) for Law and Education, and senior officials from MOE and MCYS.
MOE and MCYS said this in a joint statement, days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the government would play a more active role in early childhood education.
The Kindergarten Curriculum Framework first came about in 2003 and acts as a guide for kindergarten teachers to follow.
In revising it, the Education Ministry says the framework will incorporate latest research on early childhood education.
It will include learning goals at the end of Kindergarten 2 in a bid to facilitate better transition from pre-school to primary one.
It will be completed by end of 2012.
The framework will also include a teachers' guide and learning resources.
These will be available by the first half of next year
Janice Foo, a kindergarten 2 teacher, welcomed the changes:
"Right now the framework is quite vague, because it just points out different factors, like aesthetic approach, or making (learning) holistic, or physical development. But it doesn't really go into what kind. Having a learning goal allows the teacher to make sure that whatever is necessary for the kid to know, he or she at least knows it."
The Committee will also look at developing a detailed role for the statutory board to improve policy coordination and regulation.
The Committee will also bring in new anchor operators, in a bid to improve quality and affordability of pre school education.
Currently there are two anchor operators - the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and NTUC My First Skool.
It will also facilitate the government's setting up of pilot pre-school centres over the next few years.
The pilot pre-school centres are part of the government's move to play a more active role in raising the quality of pre school education.
MOE says these centres will enable the ministry to incorporate findings on effective teaching and learning in pre-schools, and develop best practices.
These ideas will then be shared with other operators.
The shake-up of the pre-school sector also comes at a time when government is cautioning against 'over-teaching' pre schoolers.
Adjunct Professor at SIM University, Professor S Gopinathan says parents also have an important role to play in ensuring the intrinsic love for learning and discovery remains a focus at this age:
"Parents cannot continually say I'm looking at what my neighbour is doing and I therefore have to do it. They have to make choices, they have to look at how children are coping. If children appear to be stressed, appear to be disinclined to learn, then that's a signal that they should heed. So it's something parents have to think seriously about."
Prof Gopinathan says pre school education must remain a time for children to learn through play, and pick up social skills.
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