SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) will open 13 new MOE kindergartens in 2019 and 2020 in areas with high demand, MOE announced on Wednesday (Aug 23).
All of them will be located in primary schools in areas including Punggol, Sengkang and Yishun.
Of the 13, seven will open in 2019, and six in 2020.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday that MOE will scale up to 50 kindergartens in the next five years, in a bid to increase the quality of pre-school education for children aged five to six.
Giving more details on the announcement in a media briefing, MOE said that by 2023, the 50 kindergartens will cater to about 20 per cent of children in that age group. It added that currently, the percentage is in the "low single digits".
"With greater scale, MOE will play a bigger role to influence and support the sector more strongly," the ministry added.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the briefing, Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said that the Ministry hopes to give standards in the entire early childhood sector a boost.
“We hope it’s not just about the number of MOE kindergartens around, but really being the engine to uplift the sector in terms of the teaching quality, curriculum and pedagogies,” he said.
But he stressed that parents will still have a “diversity of choices” when it comes to pre-schools.
“In terms of the MOE kindergartens and anchor operators, we will have about 60-plus per cent of the market share,” he said. “So parents will still have a choice as to where they want their little toddlers to attend school.”
ALL MOE KINDERGARTENS TO BE LOCATED IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
MOE added that its kindergartens will be located in primary schools, as co-location enables closer collaboration between them and allows for smoother transition to primary one for the pupils.
To that end, MOE will also relocate three existing kindergartens in community areas - Fernvale Link, Yishun and Tampines - to nearby primary schools from 2019 onwards.
The one at Fernvale Link will relocate to Fern Green Primary School in 2019, while the one at Yishun will move to Huamin Primary School in 2020. The relocation of the kindergarten at Tampines will be announced at a later date.
Including the kindergartens at Fernvale Link and Yishun, there will be 29 MOE kindergartens by 2020, up from the current 15. In February, MOE had announced it will open another three kindergartens in Punggol next year.
At the briefing, MOE also announced that the new centralised training institute for pre-school teachers will take in its first batch of students in 2019.
NEW KINDERGARTENS TO COLLABORATE WITH ANCHOR OPERATOR PRE-SCHOOLS' EARLY YEARS CENTRES
MOE added that all its new kindergartens opening in 2019 and 2020 will collaborate with pre-school anchor operators as part of a pilot programme beginning in 2019.
It was earlier announced in February that the two largest anchor operators - PCF Sparkletots and NTUC My First Skool - would set up Early Years Centres that specifically cater to children aged two months to four years old. Under the pilot, eligible Singaporean children enrolled in these Early Years Centres will be guaranteed a K1 place in a nearby MOE kindergarten.
The first batch of children from the Early Years Centres will enroll in their partner MOE kindergartens for K1 in 2019.