'Revamp pay structure, image of teachers'
Study cites 'overwhelming concern' over turnover of experienced teaching staff
SINGAPORE - Despite "considerable progress" in the Government's efforts to raise the standard of preschool educators, much remains to be done, say industry leaders.
Shortage of qualified teachers as a result of high turnover rates and the low pay and status of preschool teachers continue to plague the industry, according to leaders of the sector who took part in a study commissioned by the Lien Foundation.
According to the study, a majority of the participants cited the workforce as the aspect of preschool sector which needs "urgent improvement".
They also share "an overwhelming concern over the turnover of qualified and experienced preschool teachers".
To address the challenges, the participants suggested creating a more formal pay structure - comparable to the salaries that mainstream school teachers are getting - and a "minimum salary" for preschool teachers. They also called for an independent review of training programmes, to improve standards and consistency of training.
A national campaign to enhance the image of preschool teachers is also needed, the participants said.
In 2001, a national strategy to raise the qualification levels of these educators was introduced, with the recommendation that the minimum qualification for preschool teachers should be a Certificate in Pre-school Teaching (CPT), with a minimum of five "O"-level credits, including a pass in English language.
It also highlighted the "wide disparity and differences" regarding the types of preschool training available, in contrast to the formal training that mainstream school teachers receive at the National Institute of Education.
At a panel discussion on the study, SEED Institute Academic Director Ho Yin Fong, who was one of the participants in the study, suggested that the sector should attract the top 30 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates to become preschool teachers.
She also proposed a "clear roadmap" that guides the professional development of a preschool teacher.
On the various proposals to raise the quality of the preschool teachers, an EtonHouse spokesman told TODAY: "A lot has been done in this area. However, we need to continue to motivate the youth to join and offer more affordable professional development opportunities to educators."
By Tan Weizhen
18 July 2012