Upcoming Increase in Subsidies for Pre-school Education
Mr Desmond Choo
MP for Tampines GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development in view of the upcoming increase in subsidies for pre-school education, how will the Ministry guard against undue fee increases from operators that will negate the effectiveness of such subsidy support to parents.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development what measures will the Ministry put in place to prevent pre-school operators from taking advantage of the recently announced higher subsidies to parents by raising their pre-school fees.
1 Today, MOE Kindergartens, Anchor Operators and Partner Operators make up slightly over half of all preschool places. Anchor Operators and Partner Operators are subject to fee caps stipulated by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), and are required to ensure that any fee increase is moderate and their fees do not exceed the caps. In fact, the fee caps for Anchor Operators and Partner Operators have been maintained at their current levels since 2014 and 2016 respectively. These fee caps will help to moderate any increase in fees for a significant proportion of the preschool sector.
2 The remaining preschools are generally run by private and not-for-profit operators. These operators have flexibility in setting their fees, and we recognise that fees may be adjusted from time to time in response to market conditions and operational costs. All preschools are required to inform parents and ECDA of any increase in fees by 1 September of the preceding year, so that parents can make an informed choice about their child’s preschool.
3 We encourage preschools to ensure that their fee increases, if any, are not excessive, so as to remain competitive and attractive to parents. Over the next few years, parents will increasingly have more affordable and quality preschool options to choose from. By around 2025, the share of government-supported preschool places will rise to 8 in 10.
4 In the medium term, as government-supported preschools grow, we will lower fee caps for government-supported preschools so that parents will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees for full-day preschool, before means-tested subsidies.
5 Already, government-supported operators have helped to stabilise preschool fees in the sector. Median full-day childcare fees fell for the first time in 2016 when the Partner Operator scheme was introduced, and have been maintained since. We expect median fees to be brought down further when we expand the Partner Operator scheme to more preschools in 2021, along with a lowering of their fee cap from the current $800 (before GST) per month for full-day childcare.
6 Increasingly, parents will enjoy more access to affordable and quality preschools for their children. This ensures a good start for every child and strong support for parents in raising their families.