“This year, the number is down to about 440, thanks to outreach efforts by community partners, including social workers and self-help groups” (Fewer Enter Primary One Without Pre-School Education, Miss Ng Jing Yng).
The importance of having a quality pre-school education cannot be understated – as explained in the news article “Fewer Enter Primary One Without Pre-School Education” (July 22, 2011) by Miss Ng Jing Yng – therefore, beyond the emphasis of reducing the number of children not experiencing pre-school education before they enter primary school, it is imperative for community stakeholders to raise the standards, diversity and applicability of this education. Progressively, pre-school institutions and the corresponding ministries or government agencies need to heighten parental involvement in the education process, improve the programmes dedicated towards language education, and create constructive, public platforms to provide productively-useful resources for active at-home teaching-learning processes to take root.
Successful education models around the world have supported the proposition that teachers alone cannot assure the smooth emotional and intellectual growth of children. Most evidently, many academics have attributed Finland’s ability to produce outstanding, academically-strong students to the administration’s astute implementation of effective pre-school education pedagogies and policies with parents, families in mind. Reading at home is highly encouraged – with bedtime sessions established as part of the culture – and parents speedily develop mutually-beneficial relationships with their children’s educators. This can certainly be emulated in the Singapore context, with parent-teacher meetings more focused upon the holistic evaluation of the students, instead of continuing pedantically with status quo where grades and examination performance take precedence.
More can also be done to better language education. Singapore’s active insistence upon bilingualism is premised upon noble intentions; unfortunately, it does not take into account inherent difficulties faced by students from varying family backgrounds. For instance, students in English-speaking households find it exceptionally challenging to be proficient in their prescribed “mother tongues”. Consequently, more effort has to be committed by the schools – at the same time, taking advantage of the students’ linguistic learning capabilities at the young ages – to help them become familiar and comfortable.
Good household education can serve as a positive complement for pre-school learning. Given the accessibility of the Internet as well as the proliferation of neighbourhood or community organisations, channels can be created for the sharing of materials for home-based teaching-learning. This can include book reading lists for different ages and different interests, publicity for free seminars and programmes to accommodate working parents, sharing of personal parenting tips et cetera. Interest groups may be proactively formed, and indirectly create social circles between parents and families.
Harmonising the aforementioned recommendations will be a good way in terms of moving forward, and helping our kids build a sturdier foundation for their future endeavours in schools and beyond.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.