SINGAPORE: Pre-school principals and lead teachers can now go on overseas study trips and receive cash incentives, under a new professional development programme launched on Friday (Oct 6).
The Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Leaders, announced at the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) annual conference, is aimed at grooming leaders and boosting quality in the sector.
The three-year programme is opened to centre leaders or pre-school principals with at least three years of leadership experience, and lead teachers who have at least five years of teaching experience.
About 250 childcare teachers and close to 80 educarers – early childhood professionals who work with infants, toddlers and nursery-aged children – are currently on the programme, according to Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee.
Said Mr Lee: "Building on our efforts to groom these promising educarers and teachers, we want to do more to develop the generation of capable leaders."
Learning opportunities include professional sharing with other leaders, as well as conferences, said ECDA. They may also go on an ECDA-funded overseas study trip to learn about international best practices.
Participants will continue to work at their centres and earn a salary, but they will also receive up to S$15,000 in cash incentives upon completion of each year and all service milestones.
Leaders can be nominated for the programme if they fulfil the criteria set under the Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education. For example, they should have a minimum of three to five years' leadership experience and have to either be Singapore citizens or permanent residents.
Nominations for the next batch are now open until Dec 8, with the programme scheduled to begin in the first half of 2018. These nominations are made by employers and will be assessed by ECDA.
The agency is also opening its Fellows Programme to new applicants through to Oct 31. The programme, which was first introduced in 2015, recognises experienced early childhood leaders who display "exemplary leadership and expertise".
The leaders are given opportunities to "drive quality improvements in the sector", taking on roles such as leading master classes and workshops, mentoring centre leaders and senior teachers beyond their centres, and guiding centres to deliver quality curricula.
Fellows also enjoy professional development opportunities and a S$9,000 annual allowance.
MORE RESOURCES FOR EARLY YEARS
Additionally, an Early Years Development Framework Educarers' Guide has been launched to provide centre leaders and educarers with best practices, tips and activity ideas.
"With the growing demand and emphasis on the early years of child development, teachers and leaders will need to be well equipped for the entire spectrum of child development from zero to six years old," said Mr Lee.
He also spoke about progress made over the past year in the sector, such as the Early Childhood Manpower Plan and how teachers are working in a more supportive environment.
According to Mr Lee, educarers in 800 pre-schools are able to devote more quality time to the children under their care this year as they have adopted smart solutions to reduce the burden of administrative work and make day-to-day tasks less tedious. For example, teachers can use a mobile app to update the children's portfolio and communicate with parents.
Mr Lee said the feedback has been good so far and added that moving forward, ECDA will continue to work with industry partners and government agencies to invite more vendors to propose digital design solutions in early 2018.