1. As announced at the 2017 National Day Rally, the Government will be making key moves to significantly uplift the Early Childhood (EC) sector. Apart from expanding provision of affordable and quality EC services, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) will also be established, with a national mandate to develop EC educators for the sector.
2. Formed from the consolidation of EC training capabilities and expertise of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), Temasek Polytechnic (TP), and NTUC’s SEED Institute, NIEC will become a major EC training provider, when it begins operations from January 2019. NIEC seeks to provide consistent quality training of EC educators and has reviewed the existing EC courses to ensure coherence in curriculum coverage and standards.
Strengthened foundational training for all Diploma courses
3. As a start, NIEC has curated a set of core modules, which will form the foundation for all diploma-level training – whether through Pre-Employment Training (PET) or Continuing Education and Training (CET). Beyond equipping students with the professional knowledge and skills to take on the role of a pre-school educator, the core modules will feature a strong emphasis on practice-based learning. Module content will also be enhanced to give students a more complete and holistic understanding of EC development needs of the entire age spectrum, including the very early years. A synopsis of the core modules offered as part of NIEC Diplomas is in Annex A.
New Diploma in Early Childhood Development & Education (ECDE), with revised electives and tracks
4. With the consolidation and establishment of NIEC, it will also launch a new Diploma in Early Childhood Development & Education (ECDE) for the 2019 PET student intake which will be available at its NP and TP campuses. This new Diploma in ECDE will comprise the NIEC Diploma core modules and two EC-related electives. An indicative list of EC electives offered by NP and TP is available in Annex B. From 2021, students will also have the option of choosing an elective from another campus at NP or TP.
5. Recognising that ECDE students may wish to deepen their knowledge or skills in a specific area of interest, NIEC will also offer the Early Intervention Track and Visual Arts Track at NP and TP respectively. Students may choose to take three relevant electives in the Early Intervention or Visual Arts field in replacement of the two EC-related electives to complete the Track.
6. As part of the Diploma core, ECDE students will also be expected to complete two practicums and a 22-week Student Internship Programme, which will be spread throughout the curriculum so that they can gradually apply what they have learned. As EC training has to be practice-based within authentic work environments, hands-on learning at various preschools will enable students to apply their knowledge, attain the soft skills required in interacting with children, and develop their professional competencies.
7. The existing Diploma in Chinese Studies (Early Childhood) and Diploma in Tamil Studies with Early Education will continue to be offered by NIEC at NP. NIEC will also continue to offer the Higher Nitec in Early Childhood Education at ITE as a certificate course for EC educators. A list of NIEC’s PET courses for the 2019 intake is available in Annex C.
An enriched student experience
8. The NIEC student experience will be a unique one. Those enrolled in EC PET courses will be recognised as NIEC, as well as polytechnic/ITE students. They will complete the polytechnic/ITE core at their institutions and be fully immersed in campus life - participating in co-curricular and campus activities, as well as accessing student support and other campus services that are available to all students.
9. At the same time, students can benefit from NIEC student development activities, talks and workshops conducted by EC specialists and industry experts, as well as EC career guidance events. These cross-campus activities serve to strengthen NIEC students’ sense of belonging as an EC fraternity. Beyond the students’ graduation, NIEC will invite graduates to professional networking events, so they continue to have opportunities for continued learning and professional upgrading.
Impact on existing students in PET courses
10. With the launch of the Diploma in ECDE, NP’s Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECH) and Diploma in Child Psychology & Early Education (CPEE), as well as TP’s Diploma in Early Childhood Studies (ECS), will no longer admit new students from AY2019.
11. NIEC will take over the running of the existing NP and TP courses, and is committed to ensure quality and continuity in students’ learning. Students in these courses will complete their studies under the diploma they are enrolled in, with no change in curriculum structure or graduation requirements. Their diplomas will be jointly awarded by NIEC and NP or TP. They will also have the opportunity to enjoy cross-campus student development activities and have access to EC professional networking events and workshops organised by NIEC.
Application to NIEC PET Courses
12. Final-year O-Level and ITE students who are interested to apply for the Academic Year 2019 intake to NIEC Diploma PET courses can do so through the Polytechnic Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) in June 2018 - while those interested to apply for Higher Nitec in Early Childhood Education at ITE can do so via the ITE EAE in May 2018. Applicants will be assessed by an NIEC panel, and selected based on their passion, aptitude and character attributes relevant to the EC profession. Applicants who are found suitable will be given conditional offers, to be confirmed if the applicants subsequently meet the course-specific minimum entry requirements.
13. All Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents who are successfully admitted into the NIEC PET Diploma courses via EAE will be offered the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Training Award (Polytechnic). The ECDA Training Award will provide full course sponsorship, a monthly allowance, grants for study-related expenses, and various professional development and networking opportunities. Recipients are expected to fulfil a year’s bond to the EC sector (in an ECDA-registered/licensed kindergarten or child care centre) for every year of support received, upon completion of their course. ECDA will also work with the EC sector to engage and groom NIEC students early, to give them a smoother and stronger start to their career.
14. Interested students can also apply for their preferred EC course based on their academic performance after the release of their results via the Joint Admissions Exercise (for O-Level graduates) or the Joint Polytechnic Admissions Exercise (for ITE graduates).