It is stipulated that 3,000 more preschool teachers are needed by 2020 to meet the demands of the childcare sector. However, it seems difficult to attract and retain teachers for the role despite efforts to make this profession more attractive. Preschool teachers face many challenges and the job is not as easy as it looks.

There are many reasons that people do not stay in this job for long. Some may have had different expectations of what the job is like, some leave because it is mentally stressful, while some leave due to the lack of career progression, or for family commitments. Low pay could also be a contributing factor. Previously in 2012, the starting salary was $1,900. Over the years, it has increased to $2,300 according to last year’s Polytechnic Graduate Employment Survey.

Read the full article on Channel NewsAsia: Why it’s still so hard to have more early childhood educators in Singapore

Analysis:

Preschool teachers are important in Singapore because good preschool education prepares children for formal primary education. Although it is not compulsory, many parents are likely to send their child to preschool as early as the age of eighteen months if both parents are working and there are no other options for childcare. Similarly in Japan, where low birth rates and ageing population are major issues, plans have been made to raise the salaries of preschool teachers in an effort to address the shortage of nursery schools.

For any sector to retain talent, the rewards (monetary or intangible) need to be proportional to the importance and difficulty of the job. People also need to feel that they are being valued for the work they do in order to stay motivated.

Being entrusted with the care of a class of toddlers makes the role important and stressful. They bear the pressure of educating the children and ensuring their safety at the same time. The overall development of children at that age is crucial as well. That is why preschool teachers are a critical part of the broader solution in giving every child the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. Should society accord more status and prestige to preschool teachers, or teachers in general? (Read about Finland’s respect for their teachers.)
  2. What would happen if there are not enough preschool teachers?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘consolidate’: combine (a number of things) into a single more effective or coherent whole

Picture credits: https://www.pexels.com/photo/arts-and-crafts-child-close-up-color-159579/

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