Aspiring pre-school teachers in the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will soon be able to gain more work experience through longer and more structured internships. These will last 51/2 months - almost twice as long as current stints.
Students will be assigned to mentors who are certified as teachers by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), have at least three years of experience in the sector, and have completed a mentoring course recognised by ECDA.
From this year, childcare centres and kindergartens that host full-time students in early childhood studies can tap a new ECDA grant to get more of them to take interns from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and ITE.
Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law, said in Parliament yesterday: "We need more companies to support enhanced internships from polytechnics and ITE, to provide meaningful work assignments and mentoring by experienced professionals."
The Early Childhood Capability Grant will support the cost of deploying mentors, providing stipends and other materials.
Participating operators will get $1,700 for each intern, to recognise extra work for teachers who act as mentors, or to hire relief staff to cover their duties.
In addition, they will be given $200 per intern for teaching materials and resources required for the interns to complete projects as part of their courses.
ECDA will also co-fund half of the minimum monthly stipends of interns - $600 for those from ITE and $700 for polytechnic interns.
The first batch of 24 final-year students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic's child psychology and early education course will start their stints in September.
They will be followed next year by 97 Temasek Polytechnic early childhood studies students in March, and 80 students doing ITE's Higher Nitec in early childhood education in September.
By 2019, 400 students would have done revamped internships.
Pre-school operators said the new grant will encourage them to take in more interns, at a time when the sector struggles with retaining teachers.
Mrs Liaw-Tan Xinhui, director of Ameba Schoolhouse, said: "It's a win-win situation. Centres can train students in their final year of studies whom they could hire and students get job experience and an allowance."
Eshkol Valley Preschool managing director Vincent Yap added that longer stints will give student-teachers more time to build better rapport with children.
"That will help them to deliver lessons better, and have a good experience. Hopefully they will have a better impression of the industry and stay on," he said.
This initiative is part of SkillsFuture, a national effort to integrate education, training and career progression. Other plans include a pilot to familiarise secondary school students with companies and polytechnics to help them make better decisions about their future courses and careers.
To strengthen the link between study and work, the Ministry of Education has appointed the five polytechnics and ITE to coordinate initiatives with industry partners in 17 sectors. For example, Republic Polytechnic, the sector coordinator for logistics, has gathered 12 firms for a year-long, work-study scheme.
This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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