Singapore has strong positive indicators on ECCD outcomes globally. Among young children, immunization is universal with extremely few malnutrition rates and under-5 mortality. A recent framework to inculcate healthy lifestyles for children and youth was initiated that strengthened the emphasis on physical activity and nutrition.
Emphasis on early education is high with nearly universal participation rates. Since the early 2000s, the nation has been progressively investing in the professional development of early childhood professionals and the development of programmes serving children in child care centres and kindergartens.
In 2013, requirements for early childhood educator qualifications have been increased in the effort to enhance quality. Similarly, an accreditation framework was established in 2011 focusing on providing quality preschool education.
1. In working towards a common belief and vision for the child to anchor the role and practices of parents, educators and government.
2. More conscious effort needed to support and meet the diverse needs of all children and families while strengthening a sense of belonging for all, through a) supporting and strengthening parenting roles and family-child relationships; b) inclusion in schools; and c) affordability of child care
3. ECD staff recruitment, retention and professional practice.
1. Investing in early childhood education so that every child in Singapore starts well.
2. To enhance health outcomes for children and youth.
3. Building a more inclusive society.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in Singapore serves as the ECCD regulatory and developmental authority, overseeing key aspects of children’s development below the age of 7, across kindergartens and childcare centers.
Other ministries implementing ECCD include: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Early Child Development Agency, and Ministry of Health.
1. Kidstart programme
(Led by Early Childhood Development Agency or ECDA)
Noteworthy aspects: A program to enable children from low-income families to have a good start in life.
Achievements: Since July 2016, the three-year pilot has been actively implemented with an expectation to benefit around 1,000 children residing in low-income households in the three pilot regions.
2. FLAiR programme
(By Association for Early Childhood Educators or AECES)
Noteworthy aspects: The Focused Language Assistance in Reading (FLAiR) program in collaboration with the Ministry of Education provides focused language assistance to kindergarten children.
Achievements: Program will lay a strong oral-aural foundation in the English language for children so that they will be ready to develop early reading skills.
3. Project Hand in Hand
(Collaboration between AECES and Temasek Foundation Cares)
Noteworthy practices: This community-based project aims to engage volunteers, including active seniors as mentors, to walk the child to and from preschool regularly or when due to various challenging family circumstances are not able to attend preschool regularly.
Achievements: Pre-schoolers from disadvantaged families increase their attendance and benefit from preschool education while their families receive financial help for their education and health-related needs.
4. Safe and Strong Families pilot project
(Launched by the Ministry of Social and Family Development or MSF)
Noteworthy aspects: This is an intensive support program which aims to strengthen family-based care and community support for vulnerable children to keep them together with their families.
Achievements: Children benefit from family preservation and reunification services to enable them to remain or return to their families. Families will also benefit from counseling and coaching on parenting skills.
“That is also why the Government is investing heavily in young children. We have doubled our annual spending on preschools in the last five years. In 2012, we have spent S$360 million. In 2017, this year we are spending S$840 million. So it is actually more than double. And in the next five years, we will double spending again. So by 2022, five years from now, we will be spending S$1,700 million. It is a heavy investment but worthwhile and necessary.”