Singapore’s Early Childhood Development Agency, the government program which oversees all aspects of childhood care and pre-kindergarten education in the country, will award its first Excellence in Early Childhood Development awards in November 2013. The awards will be granted to individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to early childhood development as well as childcare centers and kindergartens who have provided exceptional services or developed innovative methods. Awards will include Outstanding Early Childhood “Educarer”, Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher, Outstanding Early Childhood Leader, Outstanding Centre for Teaching and Learning, and the Early Childhood Innovation Award. The awards will be presented at the agency’s Early Childhood Conference later this year, and nominations are being accepted from early childhood professionals as well as the general public through August 23, 2013.
The awards will honor childcare and education professionals from across Singapore who have been role models in their field. To be eligible for an award, a childcare professional must be ECDA registered, working in a ECDA registered kindergarten or childcare center, and have earned the certificate or diploma that is relevant to their position. Centres competing for the Outstanding Centre award and the Early Childhood innovation awards also need to have an excellent track record and have been in operation for at least 24 months, as well as meeting the 75% L2 teacher requirement. Though being recognized for outstanding contributions to the care and education of children is in itself its own reward, individual winners will also receive a $2000 grant to further their professional development, $500 in cash, a tablet computer device, a trophy, and a certificate. The winner of the Outstanding Centre award will win $5000 for professional development and teaching resources in addition to the trophy and certificate. Three centres will be awarded cash prizes for the Early Childhood Innovation category; the winner of the Distinction award will receive $2000 for professional development and $1000 for teaching and learning resources, the Merit Award winner will receive $1000 for development and $500 for other resources, and a Commendation winner will get $800 to promote professional development at their centre. Winners will also have the opportunity to share their experiences and methods with other educators at various platforms, in order to further encourage the improvement of childcare centers across the country. The Early Childhood Innovation Awards in particular have the potential to improve early childhood services by providing new ideas and practices to other centres which have already been tried and tested.
Singapore’s Early Childhood Development Agency is an independent government department, which is overseen by both the national Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social and Family Development. It was established earlier in 2013 as the regulatory and developmental authority for early childhood care and education for the country. Their mission is to improve the quality of early childhood programs, advance the professional development of childcare and education professionals, provide subsidies to families for pre-school programs, and plan for the future resource needs of the early childhood sector. Those who nominate a professional for the ECDA awards must demonstrate that the nominee has excelled in fostering child development, creating a stimulating learning environment, maintaining in depth knowledge of the subject matter and current childcare practices, and who is open to innovative methods and furthering their professional development. They also must engage all stakeholders in the early childhood development process, including their colleagues, families, and the community to create positive learning communities in their childcare centres. The applicant must document the nominee’s achievements in childcare and education by providing lesson plans, photographs, videos, parent testimonials, and/or observations from colleagues, as well as statements of their personal philosophy, beliefs, and practices.