New Early Childhood Institute and Child Development and Study Centre to Boost Sector Capabilities

October 15, 2014

The co-location of NTUC’s SEED Institute (West Campus) and The Caterpillar’s Cove @ Jurong East in the recently opened Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (DNI) has set the stage to enhance the capabilities of early childhood professionals in the sector. Early childhood professionals and researchers can look forward to more access to an authentic pre-school environment to further their studies and research on early childhood issues.

The two facilities cost a combined $1.85 million to set up.

Bringing training to life

The siting of SEED Institute and The Caterpillar’s Cove together has provided the training institute with some unique opportunities to further strengthen SEED’s programmes and give its trainee-teachers greater confidence, competency and edge when they step into the sector.

Trainee-teachers at SEED will go through a more robust learning experience to better bridge theory and practice. For a start, all diploma trainee-teachers at the SEED institute (West Campus), led by faculty members, will be given the opportunity to observe good early childhood practices and design set up at The Caterpillar’s Cove.

SEED faculty members will also collaborate with the teaching staff at The Caterpillar’s Cove on innovation projects. Projects that show good outcomes and other learnings at The Caterpillar’s Cove will be incorporated into SEED’s programmes, which are practice-oriented to produce work-ready professionals. For example, research publications can serve as reference texts in diploma courses and experienced teachers at The Caterpillar’s Cove can share their insights and skills through professional development workshops at SEED.

These initiatives are expected to be start in mid-2015.

New research studies to address areas of need

The Caterpillar’s Cove will also provide an unparalleled observation setting for researchers in SEED to conduct local research in the field of early childhood. It is also an ideal setting for innovative models and teaching curriculum to be developed and piloted.
SEED has been commissioned by the Lien Foundation to conduct three research studies costing $1 million in total over three years to address the lack of insights in areas of need. Two of the studies are being conducted or piloted wholly or in part at The Caterpillar’s Cove.

  • How Birth to Three Years Matters
  • Impact of Parent Engagement

A boost to the sector

With the opening of its second campus, SEED will be able to train about 7,200 pre-school teachers every year, up from 5,600.

As the National Continuing Education and Training Institute for the early childhood sector in Singapore, SEED Institute plays a leading role in the continuing professional development of pre-school educators. SEED will make training and development more accessible and easily consumed with its Blended e-learning curriculum, where classroom lessons will be integrated with an e-learning platform. Students, staff and industry practitioners can leverage on the training, research and development resources available through the e-learning portal. This includes training videos produced at The Caterpillar’s Cove @ Jurong East. This gives early childhood educators a more self-directed learning experience and the flexibility to study anywhere, with access to course resources anytime.

Innovation in childcare environment design

The Caterpillar’s Cove @ Jurong East is NTUC’s second child development and study centre. It will take in 144 pre-schoolers (from 18 months old to six years old) and 12 infants (from two to 18 months old) when it is full.

The setting up of this centre is a key part of the partnership between NTUC First Campus and The Lien Foundation. The centre aims to spearhead innovations that could set new benchmarks and spur quality improvement in early childhood education, benefiting children and budding teachers.

Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foundation, said “The new Caterpillar’s Cove is designed as an exemplary learning facility for teachers and faculty to conduct research in child development. We look forward to building a vibrant community of educators and parents committed to the development of our young children. Working together, we can advance the principles and practice of early childhood education in Singapore.”

One evident breakthrough is the environment design of this centre. Born out of the collaboration between the early childhood professionals at The Caterpillar’s Cove and designers from Lekker Architects, the environment design is driven from the starting point that young children have a right to a learning environment that provokes imagination and creativity.

Some unique design features include:

  • Garden-shed design observation booth to facilitate teacher training and research
  • Ergonomically-designed furniture to support teaching philosophy of the pre-school
  • Innovative seating to promote teacher-child interaction
  • Periscope to provide young children with view of outdoors despite adult-height windows

The Caterpillar’s Cove was a fertile ground for new ideas and many of the concepts piloted at this centre has since been incorporated in the ‘A Different Class – Preschool Spaces Redefined’ initiative commissioned by Lien Foundation and designed by Lekker Architects.

Quality education for underprivileged children

Setting the Caterpillar’s Cove apart from other pre-schools is the feature of inclusivity. In an effort to provide high quality pre-school education to the underprivileged, ten to 15 percent of the places available will be reserved for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is possible due to the $500,000 in education subsidies provided by the Lien Foundation (80%) and NTUC First Campus (20%) over five years.

Research has shown that quality early childhood education and developmentally stimulating experiences for underprivileged young children can give them an early boost and a pathway to better outcomes

25 years of impacting early childhood in Singapore

The opening of SEED Institute and The Caterpillar’s Cove at Devan Nair Institute is a major milestone in SEED’s 25 years of enabling the early childhood sector. To celebrate this landmark year, SEED is inviting early childhood professionals to a Professional Learning Day on 25 October 2014. A series of free workshops will be conducted through the day. Registration is required at

The Caterpillar’s Cove will hold an Open House on 1 November, Saturday, between 10am to 1pm. Families who are interested may register for a visit by calling 65665110 or emailing More information is available at