Up to 4,000 NTUC First Campus pre-school places to be added in the next two years
Up to 4,000 places for children will be added at pre-schools run by NTUC First Campus (NFC) over the next two years, as part of efforts to meet demand.
The places will be available in locations like Tampines, Yishun, Pasir Ris and Choa Chu Kang, some of which are near the Housing Board’s new Build-To-Order developments.
With the expansion, NFC - the second-largest pre-school operator here after PAP Community Foundation - will offer more than 30,000 places in total across some 170 centres.
NFC chief executive Chan Su Yee made these announcements at the pre-school operator’s 45th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, along with the official opening of one of its My First Skool centres in Punggol.
To better equip children for the future, Ms Chan said that NFC will be placing more emphasis on foundational skills in building relationships, understanding the world around them and digital skills.
She added: “Aside from strong fundamentals in the basics of core mathematics and literacy, our pre-school curriculum will nurture (these) three vital skills that will be important for a lifetime of growth.”
For example, older children in My First Skool centres get to interact with seniors at eldercare centres through activities, which aim to develop values like empathy and respect in children. This is part of an intergenerational programme that was launched in 2015 and extended to all My First Skool pre-schools in 2017.
From next year, children in NFC’s My First Skool and Little Skool-House centres will be introduced to concepts like cyber safety and good digital habits.
To help children understand the world they live in, NFC’s outdoor education brand, Outdoor School Singapore, aims to engage more than 7,000 children through outdoor adventure sessions in 2023, up from 2,000 this year.
The activities, which are meant to inculcate attributes like resilience and responsibility, are also open to children who are not NFC pupils.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who attended Wednesday’s event, said: “The world is changing very quickly. The type of skill sets that our children need to acquire, both in school and beyond school, is changing rapidly.”
The early childhood sector plays a vital role in improving children’s learning and socio-emotional outcomes, he said.
“It wasn’t so long ago that the typical childcare centre or early years centre would be somewhere at the void deck, taking care of a small number of children,” he said.
Larger centres, like the one in New Punggol Road that was officially opened on Wednesday, allow educators to test new ways of care and learning, as well as reach out to families, which are important in children’s development, he added.
The Punggol centre can house 65 infants and 585 older children. It currently has 26 infants and 183 older children enrolled.
Mrs Antonia Tan, 34, who has a three-year-old son in a My First Skool centre in Parkway Parade, said she looks forward to the inclusion of digital skills in the pre-school curriculum.
“That gives me a great sense of peace, that someone else is giving the kids a tour of the digital world before they access it themselves,” said the director of a family business in construction materials.
Building relationship skills from a young age is also important, so that children learn to be confident in expressing their feelings and understand how others feel, she said. She added that attending pre-school has helped her son, who was initially reserved, to socialise better.