SINGAPORE: From next January, selected early childhood educators under NTUC First Campus (NFC) will be able to complete a part-time degree course in early childhood education at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) in a shorter period of time.
In the first partnership between an anchor operator and a university, SUSS will offer credit recognition for prior learning and cumulative work experience to eligible teachers.
Under this scheme, SUSS will accord up to 20 credit units to eligible teachers, allowing them to obtain a semester reduction of courses equivalent to six months, or up to four courses.
This is applicable to two part-time degree programmes - the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (with Minor) programme, with a choice of eight minor specialisations, as well as the Bachelor of Early Childhood and Chinese Language Education programme.
SUSS and NFC signed the deal at the opening of the anchor operator’s Learning and Sharing Festival. It was witnessed by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
NFC will also set aside S$1 million each year for the next five years to fund a range of study awards and scholarships.
The teachers will be selected based on work performance and leadership potential. They will also undergo the standard admissions interview conducted by SUSS.
The partnership was made in response to industry challenges following demand for quality educators, said SUSS Provost Tsui Kai Chong,
"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," said Prof Tsui.
Career progression has been a driving factor for one educator to further her studies.
Ms Andrea Judy Wong, 24, who has been in the industry for four years, is set to take on leadership roles in My First Skool @ 601 Ang Mo Kio.
While she already holds a diploma from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Ms Wong decided to apply for SUSS’s degree programme to hone her skills.
“As I was promoted to a lead teacher where I had to lead a section of my teachers, I had to acquire more relevant and more in-depth information about the early childhood sector," she said.
Now in the second year of the course, Ms Wong explained that the programme is centred on applied learning, where her fellow classmates – who are mostly educators – conduct engagement sessions to share teaching strategies.
Associate Professor Sirene Lim, academic lead of the Early Childhood Education Programme at SUSS, also explained that the degree aims to equip teachers with analytical skills.
“We really are trying to equip teachers with skills to be more analytical, to be more critical thinkers," she said. "Not only of their own practice but also through theories. So that teachers can make better decisions in the classrooms and be much more intentional and aware of their actions and language with children."
Through the collaboration, SUSS aims to partner other anchor operators to develop and retain teaching staff.