Updated: Sep 5
Singapore, a small island nation in Southeast Asia, has been making waves in the field of education for several years now.
Known for its high-performing students in international assessments like PISA, Singapore's success is not just limited to primary and secondary education.
The city-state has also emerged as a global leader in early years education, thanks to its innovative policies and practices.
Quality Early Childhood Education Matters
Research has shown that the first few years of a child's life are crucial for their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Before we delve into the specifics of Singapore's approach, let's first understand why early years education is so important.
High-quality early years education can lay a strong foundation for a child's future learning and success.
In Singapore, the importance of early years education is well-recognised. The government has implemented a series of policies to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has access to quality early childhood education.
Unique Feature of Singapore’s Early Childhood Education
Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of Singapore's early years education is its bilingual approach.
From a young age, children in Singapore are exposed to two languages - English and their mother tongue (Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil).
The bilingual policy was introduced in 1966, just one year after Singapore gained independence.
The goal was to foster a sense of national identity while maintaining the cultural heritage of the different ethnic groups in Singapore.
In preschools, the bilingual approach is implemented through a carefully designed curriculum.
Children engage in a variety of activities in both languages, which helps them develop proficiency in both.
The curriculum also emphasises the development of children's cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
Research has shown that bilingualism has many benefits, including cognitive advantages, better problem-solving skills, and increased cultural awareness.
In Singapore, the bilingual policy not only equips children with valuable language skills but also prepares them for a multicultural and globalised world.
Key Singaporean Policies Make a Difference in Early Childhood Education
One of the key policies is the Early Childhood Development Centres Act, which was enacted in 2017.
This Act regulates all early childhood development centres in Singapore, ensuring that they meet the necessary standards in terms of curriculum, safety, hygiene, and staff qualifications.
Another significant policy is the KidSTART program, launched by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
This program aims to provide additional support to children from low-income families, ensuring that they have a good start in life. It includes home visits, group sessions, and enhanced preschool support.
Singapore's success in early years education is a result of its forward-thinking policies, high standards, and unique bilingual approach.
While there is always room for improvement, Singapore's commitment to providing high-quality early years education is clear. It is a testament to the belief that every child deserves a good start in life, and education is the key to unlocking their potential.
Note: The views expressed in this blog post are based on general observations and experiences, and may not reflect the situation in all educational settings. However, they serve as a starting point for important conversations and actions needed to improve the work environment for early years educators. We encourage everyone to join this conversation and contribute to creating a better future for our educators and children.