SINGAPORE - It is heartening to know that the authorities are ramping up the number of childcare centres to meet demand ("45 childcare centres to be built this year to meet demand"; last Friday).
While we are assured of the quantity, there is no guarantee of the quality of these centres.
Another report last Friday ("Girl, 2, found with injuries at childcare centre") gives us cause for concern.
Are there enough passionate and qualified pre-school teachers to fill the centres being built?
Handling young children requires more than just having a certificate. The three Ps - personality, passion and patience - are important when hiring such teachers.
In short, pre-school teachers must know what they are in for when they choose to pursue this career.
Do the authorities have the right people to fill the new positions? Are centre operators focused on making money or giving their best for the children placed under their care?
Research has shown that the first five years of a child's life are when much learning takes place. Sadly, our society does not seem to encourage mothers to be the "first" caregivers. Instead, children as young as three months old are placed under the care of childcare centres.
If we do not focus on improving childcare centres now, we will be doing a great injustice to our future generations.
The authorities could tap women who have given up promising careers to become stay-home mums. These women may not have the relevant certificates, but they surely qualify as passionate educators.
Grant them flexi-hours to work when their own children are at school and a reasonable pay cheque, and they could prove to be great assets for childcare centres.
Shirley Woon (Madam)
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