This is article from The Straits Times on 15 August 2008 and I agree on what is being proposed - to have the state and family sharing the cost of early childhood education and care (ECEC), due to its great importance to the country and in reducing socioeconomic gap.
A gathering last weekend with a batch of new friends gave me more insights about why this should be done.
First of all, most childcare teachers are grossly underpaid. Even a graduate with degree only commands pay of less than S$1,500 and assistant childcare teacher without degree or certificate is even lesser, not more than S$1,000. This is mostly the case for both private and public childcare center. This being that their salary is not regulated by MCYS.
So I wondered why some private childcare centre is charging such high fees? Do they really have better paid qualified teachers or simply more teachers?
Another concern is with such low income range, are we able to attract well trained staff / teachers who can really give our children a good kickstart in their formal education? I guess this may be the reason why many parents are paying more to enrol their children in other additional activities or tutition so as to give them the edge over others. This in turns makes it very expensive to raise children.
Last but not least, to help the lower income group families to overcome and get out the viscious cycle of their poverty, their children needed to have the same early education as any other children, instead of leaving it optional to families to provide.
I think some 10 years back, I have already read that a child's first 5 years is a very crucial period for learning as this is the time where they can absorb the most. So why is the government wait till now and still not decided to make ECEC compulsory?
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