So the PM in yesterday’s speech promised that the government will play a more active role in pre-school education to help S’poreans “level up”*. Actually it already has a very active role**.
Ever since the Lien Foundation came out with its report earlier this yr which in its media released stated, “Singapore’s preschool education placed 29th amongst 45 countries on the Starting Well Index” and reported that South Korea (10th) and Hong Kong (19th) were ahead of us,there has been the usual hot air from the government, the constructive, nation-building media, and S’poreans, largely off-line via the media***.
One issue that all three groups skated around are the two elephants in the ice-rink: the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) which is the dominant provider of kindergartens in S’pore, and its smaller cousin NTUC; and the ring-master (the governing PAP). Remember that the NTUC and PCF are “teeth” to the lips of the governing PAP.
It’s not surprising that the government and its minion, the media, avoided talking abt the role of the PCF and NTUC (until last night) and the government in the failure of kindergarten education here (PM skated over why the system needed fixing). So let me lay it out thickly.
The report says that where S’pore falls short is on quality issues: “Most of Singapore’s weaknesses showed up in the area of‘quality’, which includes factors like ‘student-‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, ‘preschool teacher training’and ‘linkages between preschool and primary school’. All top ten countries on the Index have ratios ranging from one teacher to five to 11 children, compared to Singapore’s 1:20 ratio.”
It’s a question of funding.
While the NTUC and PCF cannot be blamed for the lack of funding because they are, unlike private kindergartens serving the moneyed, trying to serve the masses, not the children of elite, middle class bloggers: they can be blamed for not lobbying the government for more money to rectify ‘student‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, and ‘preschool teacher training’.
So until the government increases its funding (which the PM now has), the children of S’pore’s masses will continue suffering from low quality kindergarten education.
*He said: “First of all, we’ll establish a new statutory board to oversee pre-school education. Secondly, we’ll provide and upgrade pre-school teacher training to raise standards. Thirdly, we’ll bring in new anchor operators, in addition to PCF and NTUC.
“And fourthly, we’ll upgrade the anchor operators — the existing ones as well as the new ones — so that they can improve the careers they can offer the teachers.
“They can offer structured development opportunities for the staff, they can introduce creative learning methods for the students but to raise the base — the quality of the mass market.” CNA
**I read with amazement last week the spate of articles in, and letters to our constructive, nation-building media on whether kindergarten education should be “nationalised”.
***Not surprised netizens have been quiet. They don’t breed. Or if they do, they send their kids to gd, expensive kindergartens. They are middle class elitists.