Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the PCF Family Day on 22 October 2023.
PCF Organising Committee Chairman, MOS Gan Siow Huang,
My Parliamentary Colleagues
PCF CEO, management and staff, parents, boys and girls
I am glad to join all of you today at this year’s PCF Family Day. It is even more special because this year we are here at our brand-new bird park, the Bird Paradise.
The original Bird Park was a different place in Jurong – those of us who are older, have many fond memories of that Bird Park.
If you are around my age or slightly older, you will remember going for school excursions and making many fond memories there.
Now we have a new Bird Paradise. We have updated it for the next generation so that this will continue to be a special place where families can spend time out and have fun together.
We should also recognise the people at the Mandai Wildlife team for hosting us and having this event here.
PCF does a Family Day every year in order to celebrate families. It is also reflects PCF’s commitment to take care of all our Singaporean families, especially those with less.
PCF is the largest pre-school operator in Singapore. Many generations of Singaporeans have gone through PCF kindergarten and childcare services. I too am a proud alumni of PCF, like many of you here.
The PCF brand has become an institution in our heartlands – it is synonymous with affordable and quality preschool services.
Even as we celebrate Family Day, we should also recognise the dedicated and hardworking team at PCF – our principals, teachers, staff, everyone here. Let’s give a big round of applause to everyone for their hard work.
Providing more support to families is a priority for the Government. We know that families are feeling more stresses and strains. Family sizes are getting smaller, even as our population ages. We will do more to help families, especially those who are facing dual pressures – looking after elderly parents and raising young children.
One area of focus is to make sure families continue to have access to affordable and convenient quality pre-school services.
We are continuing to invest significantly in this area. We are also putting more focus on children from lower-income backgrounds through KidSTART. And we have been expanding programmes for children with developmental needs. The Government will do more to support families, especially those with children.
Across all these areas, PCF has been a key partner for the Government. So I thank PCF for your close collaboration and support of these important initiatives.
PCF has been working very hard to improve the quality of its pre-school services. This requires constant innovating to pilot new ways to support our children.
For example, PCF is collaborating with A*STAR and NUS researchers to develop new diagnostic tools and checklists for its pre-school teachers to better understand each child’s learning and development needs. This will enable PCF’s teachers to better customise their classroom activities and raise teaching standards.
PCF is also working hard to raise the capabilities of its educators, especially in its mother tongue language capabilities. PCF aims to offer Chinese, Malay and Tamil across all its preschools. This is an ambitious goal. It is not going to be easy. It will take a few years to achieve this, because there are not enough educators with the right language qualifications in Singapore. But it is good that PCF is setting high standards. We hope that over time, all PCF children will be able to get good exposure and a strong foundation in their respective mother tongues at our PCF centres. Thank you to PCF for this very good initiative.
The PCF brand is already very well known in the early childhood space. But with an ageing population, PCF is also starting to look into taking care of our seniors.
PCF now has a few Senior Care Centres.
It is going to expand into Active Ageing Centres. These new offerings will be very useful to take better care of our seniors in the community.
Besides pre-school and senior services, PCF as a charity also raises funds for many other programmes.
This year, PCF will disburse about $4 million to uplift children from lower- income families across various meaningful ways, including financial assistance, access to enrichment activities, and improvements to their home environment. Once again, thank you to PCF for these very meaningful ways to reach out to our lower-income families.
PCF also supports other charities and organisations. PCF does an annual fund-raising every year and it is done in conjunction with this year’s Family Day.
Our mayors take turns to lead the fund-raising. As you have heard from MOS Gan just now, this year’s fund-raising was led by Mayor Desmond Choo and his team at the NE District. Everyone takes turns so it is an equal effort by all our mayors to raise funds for a good cause. This year, the NE District team raised a total of $433,000 for 37 charities. Thank you for the good work!
To conclude, the Government values the strong partnership we have with PCF and all our charities and community groups. Our experiences over the last three years of COVID-19 have shown that we are stronger when we stand and work together. There is much ahead for us to do - to uplift the next generation, to take care of our seniors, and to look out for the disadvantaged amongst us.
If we all work together as one united team, I am confident that we can build a fairer and better Singapore for many years to come.
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