WDA to offer scholarships to early childhood educators for the UniSIM programme
Come January 2010, kindergarten and childcare teachers will be able to upgrade their skills and qualification through a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Management offered by the SIM University (UniSIM). Offered in partnership with the Regional Training and Resource Centre in Early Childhood Care and Education for Asia Pte Ltd (RTRC Asia), the UniSIM degree programme is the first to be offered by a local university as well as the first to combine Minor studies in management.
This long-awaited local degree programme integrates early childhood education and business management to better equip graduates to take on business and management roles in early childhood education and education-related fields. The curriculum is broad-based and aims to develop competencies in the areas of early childhood curriculum design and pedagogy, human resource management, marketing, accounting and business planning, thus preparing graduates for a broad spectrum of career opportunities in a growing industry where both quality teaching and management skills are much needed.
National Agenda to Raise the Standards of Pre-School Education
UniSIM's introduction of the degree programme is in line with the Government's plans to raise the standards of preschool education in Singapore. In January 2001, the Preschool Qualification Accreditation Committee (PQAC) was set up to oversee the standards and quality of preschool teacher training for both kindergarten and childcare sectors in Singapore. This Committee is jointly steered by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).
Starting from 2013, as part of the professional requirements set by MOE and MCYS, 75% of teachers in a preschool centre must possess a minimum diploma in preschool education. The Government's intention to raise teacher quality is also reflected in the 2008 Marriage & Parenthood Package, where MOE and MCYS introduced scholarships and bursaries for deserving kindergarten and childcare teachers to obtain diplomas and degrees in early childhood education.
The Government also aims to increase the capacity of childcare places in Singapore by 25% within the next five years. An additional 3000 personnel will be needed to staff these childcare centres.
These national initiatives will lead to an increase in demand for teachers and principals with degree level qualifications.
As a demonstration of its commitment to develop the skilled professionals needed by the sector, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) is working out a special scholarship programme to develop the pool of talent with the potential to take on leadership roles and further contribute to the sector. Full details of the programme, applicable to UniSIM's new degree, will be announced at a later date.
Synergistic Partnership with RTRC
The UniSIM programme is mounted in partnership with RTRC Asia, a leading NTUC early childhood education training institute, to leverage on the latter's expertise to jointly develop and teach the early childhood education modules.
Said Mr Chan Tee Seng, Director of RTRC Asia, "RTRC Asia has been a pioneer and leader in the training of early childhood professionals in the last 20 years. Our deep understanding of the needs of the industry and the professionals, and our knowledge and expertise in the field, will complement UniSIM's strength in Management and Leadership training. This programme will allow practitioners to broaden their knowledge and perspectives, and build their leadership and management capabilities."
Flexible Mode of Study for Working Adults
Another unique feature of the UniSIM degree programme is its flexible mode of study which allows students to take from a minimum 3.5 years to 8 years to complete the programme. It is open to 'A' level holders with PQAC accredited Diploma in Preschool Teaching and polytechnic graduates with either a Diploma in Early Childhood Education or the PQAC accredited Diploma. All eligible UniSIM students also enjoy up to 40% MOE subsidy of the course fee.
Commenting on the programme, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of UniSIM, said, "As the only local private university in Singapore dedicated to the upgrading needs of adult learners, we are in a unique position to introduce programmes that meet the needs of industry and cater to the special needs of working adults. In this case, we are glad to be able to play a part in the Government's agenda to raise the standards of the preschool industry by providing an avenue for teachers to upgrade to a degree. The 40% government subsidy will also make this new programme more accessible to current preschool teachers."