NTUC First Campus launches industry-first partnership with Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) for credit recognition for its pre-school teachers pursuing early childhood care and education degree programmes

September 21, 2018

Through the collaboration, SUSS aims to partner other anchor operators to develop and retain teaching staff.

Starting from 2019, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will offer credit recognition for prior learning and cumulative work experience to eligible NTUC First Campus (NFC)-sponsored and nominated pre-school teachers who apply for the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) undergraduate degree programmes.

The partnership is the first of its kind to help anchor operators develop and retain their teaching staff.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed today by Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chief Executive Officer of NFC, and Professor Tsui Kai Chong, Provost of SUSS at the opening of the My First Skool (MFS) and afterschool’s Learning and Sharing Festival held at the Singapore Expo. It was witnessed by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education and the event’s guest of honour.

Through this joint initiative, NFC will be the first pre-school operator in Singapore to partner an institute of higher learning to offer credit recognition for its teachers pursuing part-time ECCE undergraduate degrees.

NFC as a progressive employer of choice for ECCE professionals

Each year, NFC will set aside a budget of $1 million to award a range of study awards and scholarships for in-service teachers. The teachers will be selected by NFC based on work performance and have demonstrated the potential of holding at least a Lead Teacher (or Senior Teacher level) or Deputy Centre Leaders (Vice-Principal level) appointments. They will also undergo the standard admissions interview conducted by SUSS.

NFC currently has close to 500 educators holding Lead Teachers, Deputy Centre Leader and other higher appointments. This initiative will also progressively build up a sustainable pipeline of work-ready and qualified educators with the requisite knowledge and skillsets to take on future leadership roles and more responsibilities.

The ECCE sector is expected to grow and thrive with rising demand for pre-school places in the newer HDB estates and with parents calling for more mother tongue language subjects to be taught in the schools.

SUSS – a steadfast partner in Singapore’s ECCE industry

SUSS has an established part-time ECCE undergraduate degree programme which is taught by qualified and experienced faculty members who possess a combination of local and global early childhood teaching, lecturing, and research experience. Since its part-time classes started eight years ago, it has over 100 students enrolled annually. There is also an overwhelming response to its full-time programme with an average of seven applicants for one vacancy.

NFC-SUSS collaboration – what NFC pre-school teachers can look forward to

Under this agreement, the NFC teachers can choose from two part-time SUSS degree programmes – Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (with Minor) programmes, with a choice of eight minor specialisations, conducted in English; and the Bachelor of Early Childhood and Chinese Language Education programme, conducted in Mandarin.

(Please see Appendix 1 for the list of part-time ECCE undergraduate degree programmes.)

With the special credit recognition scheme, SUSS will accord up to 20 credit units to eligible teachers recommended by NFC. This means the teachers can obtain up to a semester reduction of courses equivalent to six months, or up to four courses.

To graduate from SUSS with a basic degree through part-time study, students are required to complete a total of 130 credit units, inclusive of 10 credit units of university core courses. Each undergraduate degree programme is, on average, completed in about four to five years although individuals are given up to eight years of candidature.

Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chief Executive Officer, NFC, said: “We are pleased to collaborate with SUSS to support the professional development of our teachers and leaders. SUSS’ willingness to accord credit recognition to teachers who are sponsored by NFC, is a testament to NFC’s robust in-house curriculum system, professional development, and mentorship support programmes.

Mr Chan added, “NFC is honoured to be the first childcare operator to pioneer such a model of partnership with SUSS. It is a strong statement of NFC’s commitment to groom its future leaders, and to help them achieve mastery. Our goal is to be a choice employer. We recognise that the quality of our leaders and educators play a critical role in sustaining a high quality programme at our centres”.

Prof Tsui Kai Chong, Provost, SUSS, said: “This partnership is a significant and meaningful step towards raising the quality of early childhood educators. SUSS is also taking the lead to work with partners in response to their industry challenges. In this case, we will work with NFC to jointly address the issues of talent development and retention among their pre-school teachers and to groom them to further their careers. SUSS is happy to contribute in this win-win collaboration to develop, retain and ramp up the number of skilful pre-school teachers.”

MFS’ and afterschool’s Learning and Sharing Festival

Currently in its fourth edition, the Festival brings together MFS and afterschool centres’ teachers for a one-day of networking and professional development. This year, there were 41 mini workshops and 61 showcase booths for staff to learn from one another and exchange teaching strategies and best practices. There were also 48 MFS centres open for staff to visit as part of their learning journey experience. More than 3,500 MFS and afterschool teachers attended the Festival.

NFC continues to extend its outreach through the strategic opening of preschools around Singapore neighbourhoods, and reaching out to over 20,000 students.

Yesterday, MFS opened its newest centre at Segar Road in Bukit Panjang, its fourth centre to be opened in 2018, bringing the total number of MFS pre-schools to 140. NFC also owns 6 afterschool centres co-located within primary schools offering student care after school hours.

***

Appendix 1 – List of part-time ECCE undergraduate degree programmes offered by SUSS

-Bachelor of Early Childhood and Chinese Language Education (conducted in Mandarin)
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Chinese Language
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Malay Language
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Tamil Language
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Management
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Art Education
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Music Education
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Psychology
-Bachelor of Early Childhood with Sociology