SINGAPORE – By end-2023, aspiring and in-service pre-school teachers will have clearer guidelines that spell out inappropriate behaviour, as part of their training on child safety.
These include explaining what constitutes “striking” a child, or leaving him in isolation, which is not allowed, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling on Tuesday, during a visit to the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) City Campus at the NTUC Trade Union House in Bras Basah.
These changes come after a review by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) of the current training curricula, especially with recent cases of alleged abuse, she said.
Lin Min, 33, a former pre-school teacher at a Kinderland branch, was charged on Aug 30 with ill-treating a child – an offence under the Children and Young Persons Act. She had allegedly poured water into the mouth of a 23-month-old girl after forcing her to lie down.
ECDA said that Lin Min was issued a warning and has been barred from working in the pre-school sector.
Speaking to reporters, Ms Sun said: “We recognise that we have to put in more scenarios into our classroom management methods so that pre-school teachers know when you have a challenging situation, how they should manage their own emotions, as well as how they should interact with children.”
She said that educators may come into teaching with their own cultural practices and experiences growing up.
“We may think that certain actions that we are used to may be good for the child. But in today’s day and age, when we look at what is positive classroom management methods, we have to ensure that our educators are all on the same page as to what are the dos and don’ts when it comes to managing children,” she added.
ECDA will continue to work with NIEC and its training partners to review and update training content with more specific examples of inappropriate actions, said Ms Sun. One example is unpacking what it means to strike a child, she added. Striking does not mean just using your hand to hit a child, she said. Using objects like rulers and books also constitutes striking a child.
Another example is what it means to isolate a child. She said that in some difficult classroom situations, educators may put a pupil in a calm corner – a designated space for a child throwing a tantrum when he needs to regain control of his emotions. However, this may be the equivalent of isolating a child, which is prohibited as educators may not be able to supervise him to ensure his safety.
Updated training content will now indicate that when a child is having a tantrum, the educator can place him in a calm corner, but the former should still watch over him to make sure he is safe.