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Speech by Minister of State Sun Xueling at the ECDA Fellows Appointment Ceremony and Early Childhood Learning Communities Welcome Event on 23 April 2024

Type: Official Speeches: Sun Xueling, Official Speeches (All) All

Topic(s): Children & Families All

ECDA Fellows and PASTELs,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. A very good afternoon to everyone. 

  1. I was very encouraged to hear the vibrant discussions around transformational leadership. This card I chose resonated with me because I think learning, developing and shaping the future for our children is a lifelong journey. This is a journey that we will be walking alongside our children. This is very much in line with our theme today, which is about empowerment – ‘Empower Today, Shape Our Tomorrow’. I hope in today’s session, we will have the chance to discuss and further explore how we can transform our sector together. All of you have indeed led by example and guided many young educators in building their professionalism. I thank the employers for providing our ECDA Fellows and Pedagogists And Specialists in TEaching and Learning (or PASTELs in short), the time and space to fulfil their sectoral roles. 


Significant improvement in quality of sectoral and pedagogical leadership over the past 10 years  

  1. As the EC sector continues its journey towards higher professional standards, I think it is timely we celebrate two important milestones today – the tenth year of the ECDA Fellows programme and new PASTELs joining the second run of the Early Childhood Learning Communities (or ECLC in short). 

  1. Our ECDA Fellows and PASTELs have contributed much to the significant improvements in the quality of preschool and the EC sector, as evidenced by the strong slate of leaders in the ECDA Fellows and ECLC programmes. I commend you on your pursuit of leadership excellence, which has helped to elevate the EC profession to one that is progressive and impactful. You exercise such leadership daily by nurturing educators who work with you and you also care for families’ evolving needs. This is so that families and educators grow together, and no one is left behind. No child and no family left behind.

  1. Recent cases have highlighted the very important need for all educators to stay vigilant for each and every one of us to be on the lookout, to be vigilant and call out inappropriate child management practices in the classroom. All EC educators must report and stop any act that may cause a child to be hurt or harmed. As EC educators, you lead by example to do the right things and set the right culture in your respective organisations. Some of you have shared your perspectives with the public to provide insights, expertise and balance. I want to thank you for your leadership, for walking the talk and for being role models for educators. Let us remind ourselves that this is daily work. We must exercise such leadership and such vigilance every single day, because we are responsible for the young charges who are in our care.


ECDA Fellows

  1. For the ECDA Fellows, your contributions and impact over the past 9 years have been tremendous. Starting out as a small group of 14 ECDA Fellows, you have spearheaded 19 Inquiry-Based Action Plan Projects on a wide range of topics. Your collective effort has empowered over 3,000 leaders with more than 200 learning workshops and sharing sessions. 

  1. You have lent your expertise in shaping many sector-wide resources to uplift quality, such as the Nurturing Early Learners Framework and the Early Years Development Framework. You have also confidently represented the voice of EC professionals, thus inspiring many young educators and attracting new educators to join the sector.

  1. Today, I am happy to welcome 9 newly-appointed and 20 reappointed ECDA Fellows! With a wider range of expertise from the ECDA Fellows, we can look forward to their collective efforts to uplift the EC sector and professionals.  



  1. Another passionate group of EC leaders are our PASTELs. As pedagogical leaders, you have actively promoted and pursued pedagogical excellence through peer learning and sharing over the past two years. The inaugural batch of 56 PASTELs deepened their pedagogical knowledge – with over 60 hours of training each, which doubles the norm of the sector. You have also led Community of Practices, to benefit 260 educators across four domain areas, namely the Early Years Competencies, Outdoor Learning, Language & Literacy, and Social & Emotional Development. 

  1. Today, we welcome 87 PASTELs for the second cycle of ECLC, including 21 PASTELs from the inaugural batch! They will continue to deepen their pedagogical knowledge and uplift the practices of more educators. 


Strong prospects in the EC sector with leaders playing a transformational role

  1. The EC profession is a dynamic one with good professional and career development opportunities. Our EC leaders will need to step up to play a transformational role to nurture educators. Over the years, we have laid strong foundations to enhance the attractiveness of EC careers, such as reviewing educators’ salaries and enhancing their well-being. ECDA is committed to do more and will work alongside our EC leaders to further strengthen the professionalism and confidence of educators.


  1. Starting this year, the ECDA Fellows’ scope will be expanded to include mentoring of EC leaders who are in the Professional Development Programme for Leaders. We will also welcome newly-minted ECDA Fellows from the Early Intervention and Learning Support tracks to enhance our sectoral efforts of integrating early intervention and early childhood education. 

  1. To deepen educators’ skills in supporting children’s diverse needs, the ECLC will scale up from four to six domain areas. The two new domains are ‘Inclusive Practice’ and ‘Mother Tongue Languages’. This will open more opportunities for senior educators to advance their direct teaching practices, and eventually contribute to the sector by leading such specialisations at the sector level.

  1. Apart from the ECDA Fellows and ECLC programmes, there are other leadership development initiatives to support our leaders. For instance, aspiring centre leaders can pursue the revised Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Centre Leadership. ECDA and NIEC are also looking to enhance the Continuing Professional Development provisions for experienced centre leaders. 


Timely to refresh the ‘Shape Our Tomorrow’ campaign to empower educators, parents and children and attract more quality educators to the sector

  1. As we continue to deepen the professionalism of our leaders and educators, let us also work towards to strengthen the partnership between our preschools and parents to better shape our children’s future together.


  1. We all know that when parents and educators work in sync, our children benefit. Regular conversations are therefore needed to nurture positive parent-preschool partnerships. We understand that some aspiring educators who have the passion to work with children may however have some fears when it comes to engaging parents. As such, these conversations will help reduce fear and mistrust or misunderstanding among parties, so as not to deter aspiring EC professionals from entering the sector. Sharing the best interests of the child, educators need to be transparent in the process and genuine in their engagements with parents. Parents can also reciprocate by trusting in the professionalism of our educators. 

  1. I am heartened to hear from Mr Kelvin Ang, I have had a chance to interact with him personally many times. He is a parent of three teenagers, who shared his views in a letter published in The Straits Times in February. He emphasised that parents should view educators as partners with trusting relationships, and not as service providers with a paid service. He believes that when parents and educators reach a common understanding on the child's development and the support needed, it can create a safe and supportive environment for the child. 

  1. It is thus timely for ECDA to launch the refreshed ‘Shape Our Tomorrow’ campaign this year, to attract more quality educators to the sector and encourage close parent-preschool partnerships. 

  1. The ‘Shape Our Tomorrow’ campaign was first launched in 2018 to attract more educators into the sector. Building on this, the focus on the upcoming campaign will encourage greater understanding and deeper conversations on what really matters for our children to thrive today and in the future. 

  1. As EC professionals, we believe a child’s holistic development is more than just academic success. Their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development are equally, if not more important. To grow into well-rounded individuals, we must embrace our children’s natural curiosity and desire to explore freely and creatively. Parents play a fundamental role in developing and providing a conducive environment for their children at home. Working alongside parents at the preschools, EC educators play a crucial role by providing a nurturing and safe environment. I encourage all educators to continue fostering strong parent-preschool partnerships to develop the potential of every child.

  1.  Our shared interest in children’s holistic development is embodied in the campaign’s refreshed tagline ‘Empower Today, Shape Our Tomorrow’. It speaks of empowering educators, parents and children to do what they do best to support the growth and development of our young children. This can be achieved when we let our children be children to play, learn and explore; when we let educators be educators to nurture, care and guide in preschools; and when we let parents be their children’s life teachers at home. 

  1. Leaders like yourselves play a significant role in guiding and motivating talent in our sector, as well as advocating for the impact made by the EC profession in your organisations and networks. We look forward to engaging conversations with more leaders, educators and parents through the refreshed ‘Shape Our Tomorrow’ campaign. 


Concluding remarks

  1. Once again, my heartfelt congratulations to our ECDA Fellows and PASTELs on your appointment. I wish you a fulfilling journey in inspiring and empowering more EC educators, as we shape our children’s future together. Thank you.