Press Releases

Three-Year National Campaign to Profile the Early Childhood Profession

05 Oct 2018

1.               New initiatives to raise the profile of early childhood educators and enhance the training and support for Mother Tongue Language (MTL) teaching in preschools were announced today by the Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF), Mr Desmond Lee, at the Early Childhood Conference 2018.

2.               These initiatives build on efforts to transform the early childhood sector, strengthen the career prospects of its educators and enhance the provision of MTL teaching, as outlined at the 2018 MSF Committee of Supply debates.


3.               The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will embark on a three-year national campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of the early childhood profession. With the tagline “Shape Our Tomorrow”, the campaign will feature the important work of early childhood educators and highlight their invaluable role in building strong foundations for life and, in turn, shaping the future of our nation. It will leverage both social media and traditional media platforms such as television and MRT stations to reach out to the general public.

4.               This is part of our sustained efforts to foster greater respect for and recognition of our early childhood educators. More recent initiatives include ECDA’s provision of additional closure period for child care centres so as to support Teachers’ Day, and the ECDA Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development for educarers, teachers and leaders.


New Malay and Tamil Language specialised certificate courses

5.               To better equip educators in providing young children with a good foundation in MTL and support the expanded provision of MTL exposure in preschools, ECDA and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) will introduce a new specialised Certificate in Preschool Mother Tongue Language Teaching. It aims to enhance early childhood educators’ spoken MTL skills and their knowledge about related culture and heritage while equipping them with language-specific pedagogical skills and creative strategies to nurture in our young children a lifelong interest in Mother Tongue learning. It will also be delivered in a part-time format to cater to in-service teachers. For a start, this course will be available in Malay Language and Tamil Language in 2019. NIEC will share more details on the courses. 

6.               To encourage in-service early childhood educators to teach MTL and deepen their expertise in MTL teaching, a training bonus of $2,000 will be provided to those who are deployed to teach MTL and successfully complete the certificate course over the next two years. In addition, those who take up this certificate course can subsequently sign up for the Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Teachers or Educarers, and the course can count towards fulfilling part of the PDP training hours’ requirement. 

Mother Tongue Language resources for the Early Years

7.               To better support early childhood educators specialising in Mother Tongue Languages, ECDA will be collaborating with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and early childhood practitioners to develop MTL resources for children aged 3 and 4 (Nursery 1 and 2), in Chinese, Malay and Tamil Languages. These could include learning materials such as books, games and teaching guides which are tailored for our local context. This will complement the existing MTL teaching resources available for 5 and 6 year-olds, which are part of the Nurturing Early Learners framework developed by MOE.

8.               The Early Years MTL resources will be piloted at selected preschools in 2019. This will be extended to other preschools in 2020. 

9.               ECDA has set aside up to $3 million over the next two years to support the MTL training bonus and the development of the Early Years MTL resources.



The national campaign for the early childhood sector aims to raise public’s awareness of the:

1.               Important role t​hat early childhood educators play in a child’s development in the early years;

2.               Professionalism of early childhood educators; and

3.               Career and development opportunities in the early childhood sector.

There will be greater coverage of the important work that early childhood educators do, via the major media and advertising platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, television or MRT stations. Those who are interested to join the sector can also look forward to more networking and recruitment efforts to facilitate their entry to the early childhood sector.

More information on career and development opportunities in the early childhood sector can be found on


Certificate in Preschool Mother Tongue Language Teaching (CPMTL) courses

1.         How is the new MTL certificate course different from the existing training for MTL teachers? Is it compulsory?

The certificate is targeted at in-service teachers who wish to enhance their MTL skills and knowledge of related culture and heritage, as well as be better equipped with pedagogies to enable children to enjoy learning the language.

The certificate adopts a more holistic approach than other short courses which might be more for enrichment purposes. The certificate focuses on honing teachers’ MTL skills, and provides strategies to make learning of the Mother Tongue Languages fun and interesting for young children. Teachers learn how to use local folklore, the arts and heritage to help children connect with the language, and how to make the language come alive through dramatisation using children’s literature.

The course is not compulsory. However, all Malay and Tamil Language teachers are encouraged to sign up for the certificate to deepen their MTL teaching competencies, and support our collective effort to provide early exposure to and foster a love for MTL in our children during their preschool years.

2.         The new certificate course will be launched in Malay Language and Tamil Language in 2019. Will there be a certificate course in Chinese Language? When will it be launched?

The certificates support the expansion of provision of Malay or Tamil Language education by Anchor Operator preschools from 200 to 350 centres by 2022, and also the increase in number of MOE Kindergartens, which offer all three Mother Tongue Languages, to 50 centres by 2023.

Currently, there are existing pre-service (Continuing Education and Training [CET] and Pre-Employment Training [PET]) courses to train Chinese Language preschool teachers, and the sector faces a greater need for Malay and Tamil Language preschool teachers. NIEC will work with ECDA and industry partners to consider a similar certificate course to support Chinese Language teaching.

3.          Will the training be paid for and by whom?

Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who take up the MTL certificate course will be eligible for MOE subsidies, which will cover a substantial portion of fees.

MTL training bonus

4.          Who is eligible for the bonus? Will teachers in all three MTLs be eligible for it?

All ECDA-certified teachers, with their EC diploma or certificate training conducted in English, and are Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, are eligible for the training bonus. They will need to take up MTL teaching in a preschool and complete the certificate course over the next two years to receive the MTL training bonus. The bonus is currently provided to support the ramp up of provision of Malay and Tamil Languages in the preschool sector. NIEC will work with ECDA and industry partners to consider a similar certificate course to support Chinese Language teaching, and accordingly, the eligibility of Chinese Language teachers for the MTL training bonus.

5.          How will the MTL certificate course count towards fulfilling the Professional Development Programme requirements? Will they receive the MTL training bonus, on top of the PDP allowance?

ECDA-certified teachers who take up the certificate course can join the PDP[1] for Teachers and Educarers, if they meet the eligibility criteria. They may opt to count the MTL certificate course towards fulfilling part of the programme requirement of 180 hours of professional development. If they do so, they will receive the full PDP cash award ($12,000 over three years upon completion of PDP and service milestones) and not the MTL training bonus.

6.          Why is the bonus instituted for only two years?

The MTL training bonus is an initial bonus given to encourage more early childhood educators who are interested to explore MTL teaching to take up the training and become MTL teachers; it supports the sector’s needs for quality MTL teaching. ECDA will review the take up rate of the MTL certificate course along with the bonus in 2020.

MTL Early Years resources

7.          Are there MTL resources for 0 – 2 years old? 

Our current focus is on MTL provision at the kindergarten and nursery ages. Once we have developed resources in all three MTLs for children aged 3 – 6 years old, ECDA will study the sector’s needs for MTL resources for younger age groups. Preschools can continue to take guidance from the Early Years Development Framework (EYDF) to provide developmentally appropriate and holistic learning experiences for infants and toddlers.

[1] PDP(Teachers) was launched in 2016, and PDP(Educarers) in 2017. Refer to for more details.​