Ever walked past those childcare centres situated at the HDB void deck? The ones that dangle crayon masterpieces by the window, and always happen to be just beside the noisiest playgrounds? Chances are that your neighborhood has a My First Skool, a childcare centre under NTUC First Campus!

The logo of NTUC First Campus

On the 17th of January 2020, SNCF brings some of our friends from the Philippines to the NTUC First Campus Office at Mountbatten Square and I was part of the group to host them too.

A group photograph of our Filipino friends and SNCF staff outside Mountbatten Square.

NTUC’s social mission is to help Singaporean workers stretch their dollar, and NTUC First Campus is an extension of these efforts to support working parents. 

We were greeted warmly by Mr Daniel Chua, one of the managers at NTUC First Campus who had been working there for 10 whole years! He gave us a passionate presentation on the inner workings of NTUC First Campus, of which I’m happy to be sharing with you all today!

A photo of Daniel, one of the managers at NTUC First Campus, explaining to us how school fees are subsidised for low-income families.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the 3 pre-school brands under NTUC: My First Skool, Little Skool House, and The Caterpillar’s Cove

A collage of the logos of My First Skool, Little Skool House and The Caterpillar's Cove

In particular, My First Skool has around 140 centres countrywide, serving 20,000 children, 60% of which come from low-income families. With most of their schools fees being subsidised by the government, My First Skool is accessible and affordable, ensuring that no child in Singapore is denied care because of their financial background. 

Our friends from the Philippines were especially surprised by this, and shared the struggles they face in their attempts to improve the early childhood education scene in their homeland: While they long to broaden the scope of help they provide for working families, it is difficult to ease these families’ financial woes as government support is often limited. Singaporeans are fortunate indeed!

A photo of one of our Filipino friends sharing her insight and asking questions after Daniel's sharing.

Despite having to cater to a larger pool of families, the care provided by My First Skool is still specialised to each kid: Every child in infant care is allocated one primary caregiver, to prevent toddlers from becoming overwhelmed by too many unfamiliar faces. As children develop, they will also be exposed to enquiry-based projects. The amazing thing is, these projects are child-led! For instance, during the Olympics season, the children were actually prompted to work on projects centred around the Olympics! This transforms their excitement and wonder into something productive, and truly enriches their learning experience. 

Other than of pre-school services, NTUC First Campus also provides student care and parents’ education services.

A collage of the logos of Afterschool aand the SEED Institute

Afterschool, for one, is a student care centre that helps working parents take care of their Primary school children after school. The SEED Institute is also open to parents that are looking for ways to improve the care they provide for their children! 

A group photograph of our Filipino friends with Daniel and our own SNCF staff.

As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”. NTUC First Campus services are a vital pillar of support for working families. Their work perfectly reflects the co-operative values of solidarity, by supporting working families in times of need, and self-help, by helping these working parents help themselves. 

NTUC First Campus is a co-operative that is doing well and doing good, and I’m sure my Filipino friends will agree when I say that this was two hours well spent! 

A photo of the writer, Caitlin Hayley Susanto

This article was brought to you by Caitlin Hayley Susanto who was an intern at SNCF during the month of January 2020. A gigantic bookworm and history enthusiast, she is currently studying in Dunman High.