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Appeal of MOE Kindergartens will shoot up, parents say

SINGAPORE — Parents are likely to make a beeline for Ministry of Education (MOE) Kindergartens with the move to give their children priority at co-located primary schools, but the impact on other major operators remains to be seen.

Appeal of MOE Kindergartens will shoot up, parents say

Students at MOE Kindergarten @ Punggol Green. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Parents are likely to make a beeline for Ministry of Education (MOE) Kindergartens with the move to give their children priority at co-located primary schools, but the impact on other major operators remains to be seen.

Some parents approached by TODAY worried about longer waiting lists for MOE Kindergartens, while others rued enrolling their children in other preschools.

On Monday (Nov 27), the ministry said it would extend Phase 2A(2) of Primary One registration to students at 12 of its 15 existing kindergartens. Phase 2A(2) is meant for children whose parents and siblings have studied in that particular primary school, or whose parent works at that school.

Mr Yap Wee Leong, 39, a father of three girls, said that the move will ensure continuity in the learning environment as students would already be familiar with the facilities of the primary schools.

He had enrolled two of his daughters – aged five and six – in the MOE Kindergarten @ Frontier as it is a 10-minute walk from his home, and was attracted by the curriculum that encourages students to learn through play.

Priority admission will reduce the stress among parents who are signing up their first-born for Primary One, said Mr Yap, who expects a “huge rush” among parents to register their children at MOE kindergartens.

Although he did not have to be placed on a waiting list when registering his two older daughters, Mr Yap said the situation might change when it is time to enrol his three-year-old youngest daughter.

“Singaporean parents are very kiasu (afraid to lose)”, said the construction manager. “I might be put on a waiting list, but I hope the kindergarten will also increase the number of places by then.”

Responding to the MOE’s announcement, 30-year-old housewife Noryati Saadon said she intends to enrol her three-year-old daughter in the MOE Kindergarten @ Fernvale Link, which by 2019 would have been relocated to Fern Green Primary School and would also be eligible for priority admission.

“As parents, we need to plan ahead,” said Ms Noryati, who also lives close to a My First Skool preschool run by NTUC First Campus.

Anchor operators PCF Sparkletots –  run by the PAP Community Foundation – and My First Skool declined to comment on whether they foresee the changes affecting demand for their preschools.

Ms Siti Nurrafidah Samat, 33, deputy centre head of MOE Kindergarten @ Springdale, said there is already a waiting list for next year’s enrolment.

Expecting a spike in demand, Ms Siti said the preschool will increase the number of places for its year-one kindergarten students from the current 120, to 140 next year.

More parents would now choose MOE Kindergartens for a smoother transition, marked by less anxiety, for their children to primary schools, she felt.

The children need not worry about “making new friends or getting to know the teachers and place”, and Ms Siti said: “That helps a lot. Sometimes, we overlook (the fact) that the environment plays a huge part in a student’s development.”

The announcement made engineer John Tan, 33, wish he had chosen differently for his five-year-old son, who attends PCF Sparkletots preschool at Fernvale Road in Sengkang.

The school is a 10-minute walk from his home, compared to the MOE Kindergarten @ Sengkang Green, which is about 15 to 20 minutes away.

“I wish MOE would have introduced this sooner. It is a bit of a waste as my son is the eldest, and it would definitely make the Primary One registration process slightly easier,” said Mr Tan, who plans to enrol his three-year-old son in an MOE Kindergarten.

“Parents will definitely rethink their preschool options. It seems that MOE kindergartens have an edge over the other operators.”

The MOE assured there would be sufficient places for all primary school-going children because a minimum of 40 places will be set aside for those registering under Phases 2B and 2C.

The places are for children whose parents are volunteers in the school of choice or whose parents are members of churches or clans affiliated to the primary school, as well as those who have yet to secure a place.

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