NTUC First Campus Clinches Exemplary Early Childhood Employer Award
Concurrently sweeps close to half of the 20 Childcare Awards conferred by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports this year
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Limited (NFC), Singapore’s single largest childcare operator, is recognised as an exemplary Early Childhood Employer by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) this year. NFC also scoops up more than half of the 10 Early Childhood Innovation Awards, among which is the pinnacle Gold Award. Two other awards in the Outstanding Childcare Teacher and Outstanding Early Childhood Leader categories complete the sweep of nine out of 20 childcare awards conferred by MCYS this year.
The MCYS Award for Exemplary Early Childhood Employer honours and recognises exemplary childcare employers for their commendable Human Resource (HR) and people management practices. Attaining this award is an affirmation to NFC that it is heading in the right direction, growing and developing its people. Key manpower strategies are put in place, geared towards raising the level of professionalism of the early childhood profession and developing core HR programmes that offer clear employee value propositions to staff.
Shared Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chief Executive Officer of NFC, “Achieving the Exemplary Early Childhood Employer Award this year couldn’t have come at a better time as we are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year. I am definitely happy to be able to share this news with all staff as we would not have achieved this award without their strong support. At NFC, we believe strongly in investing in our people and creating learning opportunities for them in order to facilitate their career growth with us. We believe that only by caring for their well-being and development will it enable our staff to do their best for the children.”
With a total of over 1,300 staff back in 2009, NFC now has over 2,400 staff, almost double the number just three years ago. Out of this total, the number of teaching staff increased from 856 to 1563 with more than 90% of our teachers having at least a diploma qualification or undergoing one.
My First Skool (MFS) Senior Teacher Josephine Choo was one of the staff who wrote in support of nominating NFC as an exemplary employer. Having joined the organisation six years ago as a fresh diploma graduate teacher, Josephine shared her initial difficulty in wanting to upgrade to a degree course but lacking the financial background to do so. “NFC offered me a no-interest loan plan for my degree course and further showed me clear career pathways to take should I choose to stay with the organisation. Indeed, after I joined NFC as a full-time teacher, I have been offered continuous training to keep in close touch with the developments within the sector. Whenever possible, NFC also gives staff the opportunities to go for seminars and workshops held externally to widen our exposure in the industry. What I learnt helped further my bonding with my colleagues and make connections with other pre-school teachers in the industry.”
Innovation Prevails at My First Skool (MFS) Centres
The MCYS Early Childhood Innovation Award recognises achievements of individuals or teams in childcare centres who have endeavoured to innovate and improve their existing programmes, services or processes to benefit children in their centres. This year, MCYS has increased the total number of awardees in this category to 10, out of which MFS, a pre-school brand managed by NFC, won six. MFS not only clinched the gold award for this category, five of its other centres have also taken two silvers, a bronze as well as two merit awards.
MFS believes that innovation is a key motivator in offering concrete and fun learning experiences to engage children to observe and make new discoveries within the environments they are in. Taking one of the silver awardees as an example, our MFS at Blk 183 Edgefield Plains explored the value of co-operation in many different ways with children, one of which resulted in their illustrating and authoring of storybooks much to the delight of their parents. The centre also got parents involved by volunteering to be mystery readers, reading storybooks they identified for children. A total of seven ‘Mystery Reader’ sessions was conducted.
One parent in particular, Mrs Yousurfdeen, impressed with how her child has been able to demonstrate what she has learnt through the various projects done in collaboration with her fellow classmates, wrote a compliment letter to Ms Nadya Mohammad Said, Principal of the centre. She said, “I am gratified to see my child learning to co-operate with other children through various learnings which are clear departures of the usual academic learnings we find children going through.”
Tipping the joy of achieving recognition in innovation was My First Skool (MFS) at Blk 18 Marine Terrace which took the Gold Early Childhood Innovation Award by wowing judges with a board game created by Kindergarten Two children of the centre. The game, which the children named as “My Green City, was designed through a structured play approach and aimed to promote green movement. As play is self-directed, it helped to lead to feelings of competence and self-confidence for our children while encouraging creativity and teamwork.
Moved by the enthusiasm of the children, the management at MFS have decided to mass produce 10,000 pieces of the board game for all children under its 89 centres as a Children’s Day gift. The management will also be offering this innovative gift to paediatric patients at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital as well as the National University Hospital, being community partners of NFC.
Outstanding staff among our midst
No company can march forward with strength without passionate and devoted staff and NFC is fortunate to have two of its staff recognised for their outstanding qualities in this year’s MCYS Childcare Awards. Ms Rohayu Nabebe, Principal of MFS at Blk 677 Hougang, clinched the Outstanding Early Childhood Leader award while Ms Nur Fazelah Ahmad, English Teacher of The Little Skool-House (LSH) International At-The-Hub, was recognised as an Outstanding Childcare Teacher among six this year.
Sharing her personal beliefs on teaching young children, Teacher Fazelah (better known as Teacher Ella to her colleagues and students) said, “I believe that children should be allowed to choose what they want to learn. When children realise they have a say and are involved in the planning of what they are learning, their level of participation rockets along with the interest in the subject.”
Teacher Ella is known among her colleagues and even interns attached to her, to be a teacher who never fails to step up to teaching challenges. At a young age of just 24, she has fast overcome her nervousness when dealing with parents, sometimes almost twice her age, assuring them of her deep concern on their children’s developments. She makes an effort to observe every child in her class and meticulously records their behaviours and developments for sharing with parents, especially if the children should present special reasons for needing extra attention.
Outstanding Childhood Leader awardee, Ms Rohayu Nabebe, having been in the industry for 23 years, is concurrently a field practicum supervisor and an Associate Lecturer at SEED Institute. A mentor to staff, constantly encouraging them to upgrade and learn, Ms Rohayu led her team to attain the SPARK accreditation in June 2012. Her centre also consecutively attained innovation grants for both 2011 and 2012.
MCYS Childcare Awards 2012
Awardees will be officially recognised at the MCYS Childcare Seminar, to be held this Friday, 5 Oct 2012, from 8am at the Singapore Expo (MAX Atria).