Pragmatism in policy making
Singapore’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) landscape comprises about 1,800 licensed childcare centres and kindergartens that are largely private and commercial, with less than half that are operated by non-profit organisations and 15 that are government-run. In 2013, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was set up to regulate and develop both childcare and kindergarten services. Prior to this move, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) regulated childcare services while the Ministry of Education (MOE) regulated kindergarten services. The division between ‘care’ and ‘education’ was inevitable given the different genesis of the two types of services.
The chapter provides a preliminary discussion of the shifts taking place in the ECEC landscape in Singapore and highlights the policy levers believed to have a strategic influence on the quality of centre level ECEC practices. These multi-pronged policy initiatives are: a) providing curricular leadership to the sector; b) providing centre-level management standards and benchmarks; c) raising the registration requirements of teachers; and (d) supporting the centre operators serving the lower-income families. Against a backdrop of a largely privatised sector, a post-colonial past and Singapore’s current unique socio-cultural context, these policy levers will be analysed using the lens of pragmatism, which may also apply to other national contexts.