I really wonder where are all the good editors? Where have they gone to?
Referring to the report "45 childcare centres to be built this year to meet demand" (ST 3 Jan 2014)
It is heartening to know that the authorities are ramping up the number of childcare centres to meet its target. We are assured of the quantity however, the quality of the centres are still lacking.
On the same day, a report "Girl, 2, found with injuries at childcare centre" was also published in the papers. While we have yet to know the reason for her injuries, it is a great cause for concern to know that a toddler has been hurt in a childcare centre whose job is to take good care of children while their parents are at work.
As the authorities continue to increase the number of childcare centres to meet its target, I would like to know if there are enough, passionate and qualified pre-school teachers to fill these centres. It is not enough to fulfill the number of centres and drop some teachers into them. It is not enough to just hire qualified pre-school teachers. Handling little kids requires more than just having a piece of certificate. The three Ps are important when hiring pre-school teachers - personal, passionate, patient. 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 ready to fill these positions. Are operators running the centres focused on making money as there is a demand now or their priority is placed on giving the best to the children placed under their trust.
According to the report, the expansion will result in an additional 20,000 places. Do we already have the personnel ready to take on these 20,000 children? Childcare centres are not drop-in centres. It plays a far more important role than that of primary schools. Enough research has been done to prove that the first five years of a child's life is important. Sadly, our society does not advocate mothers to be the first care givers. Instead, our children, as young as three months old, are placed under the care of childcare centres. If we do not focus on the heart of a childcare centre now, we are only doing a great injustice to our future generation.
A pool of resources the authorities could look into are women who gave up their promising careers to become stay-at-home-mums. These women may not have the relevant certificates but they surely qualify for being passionate educators. Granting them flexi hours to work when their own children are at school and a reasonable pay-check, they are great assets for childcare centres.
Shirley Woon (Mdm)