Watching children grow up brings pre-school principal job fulfilment
Early childhood sector headed in right direction, says principal who learnt on the job
She did not expect to cry, but the pre-school principal did just that during a Kindergarten 2 graduation party last year.
Over the past 18 years, watching the children under her wing grow up has made the job fulfilling for Ms Mariayati Jayos.
When the 38-year-old joined the early childhood sector as an assistant teacher in 2002, there was no formal coaching or mentoring programme.
She told The New Paper: "You just had to learn on the job."
That was exactly what Ms Mariayati did: She completed two certification courses, two diplomas, a bachelor's degree and, most recently, a master's degree while working her way up to becoming principal of Agape Little Uni at Cecil Street.
She said: "People say early childhood educators have an easy job. You just go to work and play with children, what is so difficult? But behind the scenes, teachers plan and prepare lesson materials, reflect on how to improve, and monitor the children's progress."
She added: "I have seen the industry evolve and the standards of early childhood teachers go up. Now, I always tell my young teachers that they have to look up to themselves."
Ms Mariayati noted that there is now a skills framework and clear career progression tracks.
"But you also need to upgrade your skills," said the mother of four - aged 20, 19, eight and six. "I always tell my staff, if I can do it, you also can do it."
Yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said the early childhood education sector has been resilient in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.
He said demand for early childhood teachers continues to be healthy, the attrition rate in the sector is low, and salaries have also gone up by 17 per cent in the last three years as of last year, compared with 6 per cent in other sectors.
More than 1,900 jobs are on offer in the early childhood sector, with eight in 10 for professionals, managers, executives and technicians, said the Ministry of Manpower in its weekly jobs report yesterday.
Noting that pre-school places are expected to grow from 180,000 now to more than 200,000 in 2023, Mr Masagos said: "There are 21,000 pre-school teachers today and we are still recruiting."
For Ms Mariayati, the sector is moving in a positive direction. "It will be good to get new generations to join the sector so that they will be able to add some new ideas and new perspectives."