PM Lee Hsien Loong at the PCF Family Day 2017 that was held at the National Gallery Singapore on 27 August 2017.
Good morning everybody. PCF people, parents, teachers, boys and girls, and all of us here this morning. A very happy PCF Family Day to all of you.
This year, we have an inspired choice of place for PCF Family Day, as Dr Amy Khor told you. We chose the National Gallery where there is the Children’s Biennale going on. We have a marvellous place to roam around, enjoy ourselves and do things with the kids and the grown-ups.
It is an opportunity for the children to enjoy the artwork and the activities which were specially created for them. I am looking forward to seeing the 50 special pieces which our Sparkletots have done. You can see them here. I had a peek at them earlier. I can tell you honestly, if I were to try very hard, I would not quite reach that standard.
I talked last week at the National Day Rally about preschools, spent a long time talking about it, and explaining why the government is putting big investments into preschool. Because we want to make sure that we have good and affordable preschools for all our children in Singapore. So that everybody has a chance to go to a good preschool to get the stimulation, the enrichment and the education. Socialisation to make friends, to learn things, to explore the world and to start well in life. Whether you are going on to Primary 1 or whether later on, going on beyond school to work, or when you bring up your own family, you have a good foundation, and you will have a full chance to participate in Singapore, to contribute to Singapore, and to enjoy what there is in Singapore.
We have been building up preschool places. Last five years, we have added 50,000 preschool places. Next five years, we are adding 40,000 places more. That means we are going to be almost doubling our preschool places in Singapore to 200,000 preschool places. Anybody who wants to put his child into preschool, even at the age of two months old, which is when people start preschool nowadays, you can do so. Now there is still a bit of a queue if you are living in Punggol or in Sengkang. But we are working hard to cut the queue down. Within the next two or three years, we will make very significant progress.
PCF is one of the Anchor Operators doing preschools. We will support the Government’s plans. PCF will be building and operating Early Years Centres in new HDB developments. They will cater to children aged 0-4. Because 0-4 years old is where we have the shortage of places. 5-6 years old, Kindergarten 1 and Kindergarten 2, we are generally okay. But 0-4 years old, there is still a need for more. PCF will go there and we will build the places for 0-4 years old. We will be able to concentrate more on the early years education and fulfil our part to make a fair and just society in Singapore.
Today, we have 360 centres island-wide and PCF takes care of 40,000 children. We have upgraded our PCF Kindergartens and have made them PCF Sparkletots. Better curriculum and well-qualified teachers. Our Sparkletots is more than a change of name. In fact, we are upgrading and getting them certified. Most of the Sparkletots preschools already have what is called the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK) certification. Which means the Early Childhood Development Agency has inspected, verified and certified them. They have reached a certain standard and they are SPARK accredited. 4 out of 5 are SPARK accredited. We plan to make all of our preschools accredited soon.
Beyond that, PCF will provide additional opportunities to develop children’s interest in many areas through enrichment programmes. Speech, drama, aikido, table tennis, gymnastics, painting, even becoming masters of ceremony for ceremonies, like today. Today’s event here will give you a taste of the kind of things which we are encouraging kids to do, which are beyond the normal, strict curriculum; Wwhich you will find fun and enriching, and it expands your minds and your horizons. Parents can be assured that at PCF, the kids will be well-looked after and can learn from a wide variety of programmes.
I like finally to say a special thank you to the PCF Sparkletots teachers and staff. All of us who are parents know that good teachers make all the difference to our children. PCF staff make all the difference in playing an important role in nurturing the kids, bringing them up and preparing them for school and for life. The government will be supporting, training and upgrading you in your careers. I hope all the teachers and staff will continue to do your best to give our kids the best start in life
I wish all teachers a very Happy Teachers’ Day, and all of us, young and old, a very enjoyable day ahead
Thank you very much.
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