At the 2019 National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commented on Singaporean parents’ growing understanding of the importance of early childhood education:
We want to start earlier in a child’s life because these years make a big difference to his development… a good pre-school education can make a crucial difference.
As such, the Singapore government has announced that it will more than double the current $1 billion set aside for early childhood education like playgroups and kindergartens in order to relieve parents’ burden in this aspect.
Income ceiling for childcare subsidy to be raised
One of the big changes lies in raising the income ceiling for means-tested subsidies from $7,500 to $12,000 per month starting next year. The Singapore government has acknowledged that middle-income families are also suffering from the burden of playgroup fees.
PM Lee commented, “For middle-income parents, pre-school fees can take up a chunk of their household budget, especially if two or more kids are in preschool at the same time.”
|Means-tested subsidies||Household income below $7500
|Household income below $12,000
Preschool fee subsidies for all incomes
PM Lee also announced the government’s goal to reduce preschool fees to that of primary school and after-school care combined, which is about $300 per month after subsidies.
He also compared the availability of playgroup and preschool places to other public goods in Singapore, saying “for housing, we have HDB. For healthcare, we have restructured hospitals. Similarly, for preschool, we should have good quality, government-supported choices available to all Singaporeans”.
He then announced an increase in preschool subsidies across income brackets, although no other details were given.
Changes in Singapore playgroup fees
In another media conference this year, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said that the income ceiling and subsidies for anchor operator preschool fees will be raised across the board. Anchor operated preschools are operators who are funded by the government to provide a good education for disadvantaged families.
Families with a monthly household income of $3,000 a month will have their subsidies raised from $400 to $467 and will pay $3 a month per child at anchor operator preschools as compared to the $70 they pay now.
Families with a monthly income of $5,000 will also qualify for a maximum additional childcare subsidy of $340, up from $100.
The income ceiling will also be raised and families with a gross monthly income of $8,000 will be eligible for a preschool fee subsidy of $190, and those with a gross monthly income of $12,000 will get an $80 subsidy.
|Family Income (per month)||2019 subsidy||2020 subsidy|
Mr Desmond Lee also announced at the conference that by 2025, 80 per cent of preschoolers will have a place in government-supported preschools. Today, anchor operators, partner operators and MOE-run kindergartens account for just over 50 per cent of preschool places.
Written by Steffi Wee
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