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22,000 more preschool places over next 2 years, mostly in newer estates; monthly fees to fall by up to S$36

SINGAPORE — An additional 22,000 full-day preschool places will be created over the next two years, mostly in newer estates where young families are concentrated, the Government announced on Saturday (Oct 29).

Of the 22,000 new places, about 2,800 places will be set aside for infant care and 4,400 for playgroup programmes.
Of the 22,000 new places, about 2,800 places will be set aside for infant care and 4,400 for playgroup programmes.
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  • Over the next two years, five anchor operators will open up 22,000 more full-day preschool places, mostly in newer estates with younger families
  • The 22,000 places includes 2,800 infant care places and 4,400 playgroup programme places
  • Fee caps for anchor operators and partner operators will also be reduced by up to S$40 from Jan 1, 2023
  • After including GST and subsidises, parents can save up to S$36 each month 

SINGAPORE — An additional 22,000 full-day preschool places will be created over the next two years, mostly in newer estates where young families are concentrated, the Government announced on Saturday (Oct 29).

In another move to help parents, fee caps at government-supported preschools will be lowered by up to S$40 a month from Jan 1, 2023, Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli said.

With about 100,000 children set to benefit from the lower caps, this represents savings of up to S$36 a month, after subsidies and GST, depending on whether the centre charges the full cap.

The additional preschool places are part of the effort to ensure that 80 per cent of preschoolers have a place in Government-supported preschools by about 2025, up from just over 60 per cent now, Mr Masagos added.

Of the 22,000 new places, about 2,800 places will be set aside for infant care and 4,400 for playgroup programmes.

The places will be opened up by Singapore's five anchor operators: PCF Sparkletots Preschool, My First Skool, M.Y World Preschool, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Pre-school.

Mr Masagos was speaking at the Early Childhood Celebrations 2022 held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday. He also announced initiatives to retain and attract talent to the early-childhood sector.

“As announced in 2019, our target is to lower full-day childcare fees at government-supported preschools, such that before means-tested subsidies, dual-income families would pay around primary school fees plus after-school student care fees,” he said.

“Together, these moves further contribute to a supportive environment for families. Where families can access preschool education for their children, and be assured of their affordability and quality.”

Together, these moves further contribute to a supportive environment for families. Where families can access preschool education for their children, and be assured of their affordability and quality.
Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli

Today, almost nine in 10 children aged three to four are enrolled in a preschool, he added.

INCREASE PRESCHOOL PLACES MOSTLY IN NEW ESTATES WITH MORE YOUNG FAMILIES

Mr Masagos said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is "on track" to reach its target that government-supported preschools would be able to cater to 80 per cent of preschoolers by around 2025.

Government-supported preschools comprise Ministry of Education kindergartens and centres run by anchor operators and partner operators. They currently have enough places for more than 60 per cent of preschoolers, said Mr Masagos.

In July, TODAY reported that in newer estates, such as Punggol, parents still faced long waiting lists for preschools within their estate, while preschools in mature estates are seeing falling enrolment. Experts and preschool operators told TODAY that it is due to a mismatch in demand and supply.

Based on ECDA’s data, as of last year, Singapore had capacity for at least 234,079 children across infant care, childcare and kindergarten services. About 20 per cent of slots were not taken up, with only 186,212 children enrolled.

In his speech on Saturday, Mr Masagos said: “Most will be in new estates where young families are concentrated.”

Elaborating further, an ECDA spokesperson told TODAY the places could be in new estates such as Punggol and Sengkang, as well as mature estates with new Build-to-Order flats, such as Tampines and Yishun.

"Preschools are developed in tandem with new Housing and Development Board flats so that residents can access preschool services soon after they move in," said the spokesperson.

REDUCED FEE CAPS FOR PRESCHOOLS

Parents of preschool children in anchor operator and partner operator centres will also benefit from lowered fee caps starting January 1, 2023.

This is the first time the fee caps have been adjusted for anchor operator centres since fee caps were introduced in 2014, said an ECDA spokesperson.

Partner operator fee caps were last reduced in 2021 from S$800 to S$760 for full-day childcare and from S$1,400 to S$1,330 for infant care services, not including GST.

From Jan 1, 2023, full-day childcare fee caps at anchor operators will be lowered by S$40 to S$680 a month; at partner operator centres the cap will also fall S$40 to S$720 a month, all excluding GST.

Full-day infant care will also be lowered by S$40 to S$1,235 at anchor operators and by the same amount to S$1,290 at partner operators, excluding GST.

Kindergarten fee caps at anchor operator centres will also be lowered by S$10 to S$150 a month excluding GST.

After subsidies and including GST, parents can stand to save up to S$36 each month with these new fee caps should their preschool or kindergarten charge the maximum fee cap.

In his speech, Mr Masagos unveiled other initiatives, such as increasing the wages of early childhood educators and leaders. Acknowledging that some parents might be concerned that this would cause preschool fees to increase, he reassured that parents need not worry.

Noting that the lower fee caps will benefit around 100,000 Singaporean children, Mr Masagos said the reduction “demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to ensuring affordable preschool education”.

Related topics

preschool Early Childhood Development Agency kindergarten

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