Reduced fees, 22,000 new places at government-supported pre-schools in next 2 years, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Reduced fees, 22,000 new places at government-supported pre-schools in next 2 years

Parents with children enrolled in government-supported pre-schools will pay lower fees from next year, and also find 22,000 more places on offer at five of these pre-schools by 2024.

Pre-school educators in these schools will also see a 10 per cent to 30 per cent jump in their salaries over the next two years, with better performers getting larger increases, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announced at the Early Childhood Celebrations held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday.

The Government is looking to improve the working conditions of these educators, and will engage them as well as parents and operators over the next few months on matters such as not operating on Saturdays and growing a pool of relief staff.

The 22,000 additional places are part of efforts to grow the number of places at government-supported pre-schools to make up 80 per cent of the country’s total by 2025, a goal set out by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2019 National Day Rally.

This is up from around 60 per cent today, said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in a statement. The remainder is provided by private operators, for a total of about 200,000 places across the board.

Of the new places, 2,800 will be set aside for infant care and 4,400 for playgroup to address the growing demand for places at these levels, and most will be in newer estates where young families are concentrated, said Mr Masagos.

They will be added over the next two years at the five anchor operators – PCF Sparkletots, My First Skool, M.Y. World, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Pre-School.

ECDA will also lower fee caps at anchor operators and partner operators – the two schemes through which pre-schools receive government funding and support – from Jan 1, 2023.

There are currently five anchor operators and 29 partner operators, including chains such as Anglican Preschool Services and The Little Skool-House.

The fee cap for full-day childcare will drop by $40 a month to $680 at anchor operators and $720 at partner operators. Full-day infant care fee caps will also drop by $40 to $1,235 at anchor operators and $1,290 at partner operators.

The cap for kindergarten fees at anchor operators will also be lowered by $10 to $150 a month, the agency said. 

These changes are expected to benefit around 100,000 children, said ECDA. 

It said: “As ECDA grows the capacity of government-supported pre-schools... we aim to lower fee caps so that dual-income families with a child in full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees.”

Mr Masagos said: “Together, these moves further contribute to a supportive environment for families. Where families can access pre-school education for their children, and be assured of their affordability and quality.”

This comes on the back of announcements of fee increases at private pre-school operators from next year.

Earlier in October, The Straits Times reported that some operators would raise fees by as much as 11 per cent, charging parents upwards of $1,300 a month for their full-day programmes, citing inflationary pressures.