Training and pay rise for pre-school teachers

Training and pay rise for pre-school teachers
FROM COOK TO TEACHER: Ms Tan Bee Geok, 51, was a cook in a childcare centre, but loved the little tots so much that she went back to school to become a pre-school teacher. The teacher at PCF Little Wings Jurong Spring Childcare is one of six who won the Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher award this year.

Pre-school teachers can expect higher pay, more training and better career progression, as the Government signalled intentions to close the gap between them and their counterparts in the education service.

"You didn't join the sector because of money," said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday. "But we should also not have you leave the sector because of money."

The statement, made in his speech at the Early Childhood Conference at the Singapore Expo, drew loud applause from the audience of about 2,000 pre-school professionals.

The need to attract and retain pre-school teachers is getting more acute, with the Government aiming to add 20,000 more childcare places to the current 85,000 in the next four years.

There are now around 12,000 pre-school professionals, with 2,000 more needed by 2017.

Mr Chan did not say how much more pre-school teachers - who earned a median basic monthly salary of $1,800 last year - will get.

But Dr Lee Tung Jean, the chief executive of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) spearheading the moves, earlier suggested that the pay of the Education Ministry's allied educators could serve as a benchmark.

These allied educators, who support teachers in their work, earn between $2,000 and $2,730 if they are diploma holders, like most pre-school teachers.

Education Services Union executive secretary Ang Hin Kee said pegging pre-school teachers' pay to that of allied educators is fair.

"They have largely similar qualifications, while primary school teachers normally hold degrees," said the Ang Mo Kio GRC MP.

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