Ms Mariam Jaafar asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what proportion of children aged four years old are currently enrolled in preschool, broken down by lower-, middle- and higher-income family levels; (b) whether the Government has a target enrolment rate for each class in the near to mid term; and (c) whether the Government has plans to expand MOE kindergartens to take in four year-old children as a new grade to support transition from pre-school to kindergarten.
1In 2021, the preschool participation rate of Singaporean children aged 3 to 4 years residing in public rental flats was about 80%, slightly lower than the national average of about 88%. In comparison, the rate for children aged 5 to 6 years residing in public rental flats was comparable to the national average of 95%.
2 Instead of setting specific targets for preschool participation at each level, our approach is to ensure every child has access to affordable and quality preschools. We recognise that the early years are important to a child’s development, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. For children from lower-income families, ECDA facilitates preschool enrolment from age 3 onwards through KidSTART and the Preschool Outreach programme. We also ensure families under HDB’s Public Rental Scheme and MSF’s ComCare schemes are automatically eligible for maximum preschool subsidies.
3 MOE Kindergartens (MKs) are part of the Government’s overall approach to catalyse improvements in kindergarten education. There are no plans to expand the provision of preschool education in MKs to four year-olds. Instead, MOE has partnered with Anchor Operators to pilot the MK-Early Years Centre (EYC) model, which provides quality and affordable preschool education for children aged 2 months to 6 years.