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Preschools To Move To Five-Day Work Week In Next Phase Of Early Childhood Sector Transformation

Type: Announcements, Press Releases

Topic(s): Children & Families, Social Service Agencies & Partners, Social Service Professionals

1.   Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli launched the Early Childhood (EC) Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025 at the Professional Development Programme (PDP) Appointment Ceremony today. As part of the Government’s efforts to improve working conditions of EC educators, the requirement for childcare centres to operate on Saturdays will be removed from 1 January 2025.

Launch of the EC ITM 2025

2.   EC ITM 2025 builds on the success of the inaugural EC ITM in 2018 and focuses on jobs and skills to address the evolving sectoral needs.

3.   ECDA will work with stakeholders like preschool operators and educators on four key strategies (see Annex A for more details on the EC ITM 2025).

a. Develop innovative and quality preschool services to address evolving needs of our families.
b. Drive digital transformation to improve productivity and service delivery.
c. Build a resilient sector with enhanced business continuity capabilities.

d. Make the EC profession a Career of Choice.

4.   Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Education and Manpower, and Co-Chair of the Future Economy Council (FEC) Human Health & Potential (HHP) Cluster, was glad to note that more will be done to transform the sector and uplift the EC profession. She said, “The EC sector plays a pivotal role in developing our next generation. The EC ITM 2025 has set out strategies to transform the sector to ensure that every child has access to quality care and education, which will require strong collaboration across Government, employers and unions. Our EC educators are at the heart of these efforts, and I support ECDA’s push to strengthen the prospects of the EC profession in line with the sector’s transformation efforts.”

5.   Ms Euleen Goh, Co-Chair of the FEC HHP Cluster, also spoke on the importance of the EC ITM 2025 in guiding the sector’s transformation. She said, “The EC sector plays a fundamental role in nurturing our children, and this roadmap will guide preschool operators to continue improving their service provision and quality to better serve the needs of families. EC educators are at the heart of quality preschools, and I am heartened that ECDA will work closely with stakeholders to make the profession a career of choice for more Singaporeans.”

Removal of Requirement for Childcare Centres to Operate on Saturdays

6.   As part of ongoing efforts to improve working conditions of EC educators, ECDA had engaged families and educators over the past 10 months. 98% of families surveyed gave feedback that they do not require Saturday childcare service as they are able to care for children themselves or tap on alternatives. EC educators found it challenging to spend time with loved ones and to recharge as they have to work after hours or on Saturdays. Given that most families do not require Saturday service, preschool operators indicated it is also inefficient to deploy educators on Saturdays to look after a small group of children.

7.   With effect from 1 January 2025, ECDA will remove the mandatory requirement for childcare centres to operate on Saturdays. Shifting to a five-day work week will greatly improve the well-being of EC educators and make EC careers more attractive and sustainable. The implementation timeline will allow the small number of families affected by the change to make the necessary arrangements.

8.   To allow more educators to benefit from this change earlier, starting from 1 January 2024, we will:
a.   Allow childcare centres to not operate on Saturdays if there is no demand.
b.   Allow operators with multiple centres to aggregate demand and operate designated centre(s) on Saturdays.

c.   Allow childcare centres to state in their service agreement with parents that there will be no Saturday childcare service for new enrolments from 1 January 2024 onwards. New childcare centres starting operations in 2024 will not be required to provide Saturday service.

9.   Employers are encouraged to work out flexible arrangements for employees with caregiving needs. Families can also tap on paid or community-based options. The Ministry of Social and Family Development will also continue to explore ways to improve caregiving options available to families.

Appointment of More Educators to the PDP

10.   To support the professional development of EC educators with potential to take up larger roles in their organisations, 459 EC educators, including leaders, were newly appointed to the PDP this year. This increases the number of educators appointed to the PDP since 2016 to 3,194, amongst which 1,000 have completed the 3-year programme. To ensure the PDP is kept up to date with industry needs and developments, ECDA will conduct a programme review to align more closely with the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Roadmap launched in 2021 for EC educators to deepen their skills and competencies.

11.   The launch of EC ITM 2025 and removal of the requirement for childcare centres to operate on Saturdays signal the Government’s commitment to make the EC profession a meaningful career. ECDA remains unwavering in its efforts to attract more EC educators to join and remain in the sector so that every child can have a good start in life via access to affordable and quality preschool education.




About the Early Childhood Development Agency

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was set up in 2013. The autonomous agency oversees the regulation and development of infant, childcare and kindergarten programmes for children below the age of seven. To achieve their vision of giving every child a good start, the agency works in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that every child has access to affordable and quality early childhood development services and programmes.

Annex A