Five-fold Increase in New Entrants Graduating with Early Childhood Care and Education Qualification
SEED Institute, the pioneer in early childhood education training in Singapore, saw a five-fold increase in the number of new entrants in their graduating cohort of 420 students in their graduation ceremony held at the NTUC Centre Auditorium today. This was as compared to the figure of less than 50 students three years ago with new entrants now forming 50% of this year’s graduating cohort.
This year’s graduation ceremony themed “You are Part of a Growing Sector” was officiated by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Defence and Education. It marked a milestone as one of the largest cohorts graduating from SEED Institute. With higher entry requirements for pre-school teachers, there has also been a shift towards more diploma and degree holders joining the early childhood care and education (ECCE) sector and regarding it as a professional career.
Of the graduating cohort, close to 100% of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) ECCE Diploma graduates were supported by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). Trainees not only received up to 90% of course fee grants but also had the opportunity to find jobs in the ECCE sector.
Encouraging Growth but More Needed for the Sector
Higher commitment by ministries towards scholarships, bursaries and teaching awards for the ECCE industry over the next two years, as well as increasing emphasis on career progression and professional development pathways are among the key factors which successfully brought about the growth of the new entrants to the sector. However, the sector still requires a large influx of qualified teachers in order to meet the ever increasing demand.
Said Ms Ho Yin Fong, Academic Director of SEED Institute, “With more childcare centres being set up over the next five years, more than 2,500 new teachers are required to meet the needs of the expanding ECCE sector. I am heartened that early childhood education is garnering greater interest with more new entrants choosing to be an early childhood educator. At the same time, we are also seeing more in-service teachers undergoing continuing professional development courses to upgrade their skills and enhance their teaching capabilities.” She continued, “Key stakeholders, from operators to the children and parents, will in turn benefit from the rise in quality of early childhood education.”
In his speech to the graduands, Mr Lawrence Wong also shared, “This is why both the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education are increasing investments in the professional development of our early childhood educators through various bursaries, scholarships and teaching awards. We are opening up more spaces for students to pursue their studies in early childhood education, whether at the polytechnic or university level. We are also expanding provisions for Continuing Education and Training (CET), to cater to adult learners.”
One new entrant graduating today is Ms Koh Puay Han, a bio-engineering graduate by training. At a career fair, she chanced upon the opportunity to apply for a job in early childhood education. Through the WSQ Professional Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education [PDECCE] (Childcare) programme delivered by SEED Institute, Puay Han was able to embark on her journey to become a certified early childhood educator while working in the sector.
Said 25-year-old Puay Han, now English Teacher with The Little Skool-House International, “It was a great opportunity for me to attain my Teacher registration through an accelerated work cum study programme. Working and studying on alternate weekdays not only helped me gain real work experience in the centre but also made it much more manageable for me compared to juggling part-time study and full-time work.”
Another graduand, Ms Samantha Loo, 32 years old, Operations Manager with Agape Little Uni Pte Ltd, shared, “I have always had a love for teaching young children and a passion to make a difference in the lives of others even when I was working in my previous jobs. When I decided to make a career switch, I was contemplating whether to join the early childhood care and education sector or mainstream teaching. I chose the former as I believe quality pre-school education can impact a child’s future growth and development.” Samantha knew it was difficult to make that career switch to the ECCE sector but was glad to learn that courses at SEED Institute were designed with PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives) in mind. This ensured that mid-career switchers like herself can be equipped with the required competencies within a short time frame. She now teaches and handles the centre’s operations at the same time.
Increased Accessibility to Courses with WDA Funding
As the only CET institute for the ECCE sector, SEED Institute has been partnering WDA to develop WSQ programmes and initiatives to build a sustainable pipeline of skilled manpower to meet the needs of the ECCE sector.
Mr Azzli Jamain, Director, Creative and Professional Services Division, WDA said: “WDA works closely with our training partners to meet the growing manpower needs of the ECCE sector. Our WSQ ECCE programmes are made more accessible to new entrants as well as in-service teachers looking at upgrading their skills to be more competent in their jobs. This initiative forms part of WDA’s plan to professionalise the ECCE sector through continuous upgrading of the ECCE educators.”
With WDA’s support, pre-school educators have greater access to a wider range of courses, and hence be more motivated to upgrade themselves continuously throughout their career and keep themselves up to date with latest teaching practices.
Ms Michelle Koh, 32 years old, Senior Teacher with PAP Community Foundation, said, “With access to course fee grants, I was encouraged and have been able to take on this professional development course which extends my knowledge of theories and practices of early childhood education and be equipped with the skills to be a mentor to other teachers in the pre-school I work at.”
Michelle joins the inaugural batch of graduands from the WSQ Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education / Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Leadership course and is also one of 15 award winners for academic achievements at the graduation ceremony.
Annex A: Graduands for Profiling
Ms Koh Puay Han
WSQ Professional Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education [PDECCE] (Childcare)
Puay Han was a bio-engineering graduate by training. At a career fair, she chanced upon the opportunity to apply for a job in early childhood education.
Through SEED Institute’s accelerated work cum study programme, Puay Han was able to work and study on alternate weekdays and gain practical experience in the centre at the same time.
Ms Samantha Loo Sze Ying
WSQ Professional Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education [PDECCE] (Childcare)
Samantha always had a pressing feeling to take up teaching even back when she was working in other industries with previous jobs.
She believes that quality pre-school education can affect a child’s future growth and development. Despite a steep learning curve and adapting to a completely new environment, she embarked on a teaching career for the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people.
She is able to put her newly gained knowledge to practical use as she now teaches and manages the centre’s operations at the same time.
Ms Michelle Koh Siew Yong
WSQ Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education / Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Leadership
Currently undertaking Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (focused on Literacy)
Michelle has been teaching for nine years now and will soon be promoted to Principal after graduation.
Job satisfaction has been the main factor that has kept her passion up especially when she is able to help, guide and nurture the children under her care.
Through the course, she has acquired the skills to do research which has broadened her knowledge in the ECCE field. She would also like to conduct more parental workshops to keep parents engaged for the benefit of children.
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