No pre-school staff? 160 new relief teachers to the rescue

No pre-school staff? 160 new relief teachers to the rescue
Relief teacher, Madam Ng Huan Hee (centre), 55, and three-year-olds Ritsu Oiyama (left) and Anna Corkery (right) play with playdough "lollipop" as she interacts with the children in her Nursery 1 class at Pegasus International Preschool.

The manpower-starved preschool sector is getting a dose of relief, as it welcomes a batch of 160 housewives and mid-career women trained to be relief teachers at childcare centres.

Mostly in their late 30s to early 50s, they are graduates of the first run of the only programme here that trains people with no prior experience in working with young children.

Started last year, the programme was developed by NTUC's early childhood training arm Seed Institute, with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Early Childhood Development Agency.

Some 80 per cent of the relief teachers have already been employed by 15 pre-school operators and the rest are being matched with centres.

Two weeks ago, the course was beefed up to include more hours of classroom training and on-site sessions at pre-schools. They learn how to care for children up to four years old, in areas such as feeding and toileting.

Mrs Christine Dias, 54, stopped work as a receptionist 25 years ago to spend time with her children. She recently joined the Seed course after hearing about the opportunity to become a preschool relief teacher from a fellow housewife who is also keen to re-enter the workforce.

"My children have all grown up, and since the entry qualifications are low, I thought why not use it as a stepping stone before I decide whether or not to be a full-time childcare teacher."

Those who wish to join the programme need at least Secondary 2 qualifications.

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