Speech by Mr Reginald Wee, SIF Division Director (Programmes), at the Closing Ceremony of the Teaching English to Pre-Schoolers Project in Mandalay, Myanmar

Distinguished Guests

Friends

Mingala-bar! Thank you for joining us today at the closing ceremony of the Teaching English to Pre-Schoolersproject.

Today marks the culmination of a two-year collective effort between the Singapore and Myanmar communities to enhance the teaching of English to pre-schoolers. The Singapore International Foundation, or the SIF, together with our partner Myanmar’s Department of Social Welfare, have enabled knowledge sharing between Early Childhood Care and Development, or ECCD, practitioners to enhance professional development of the sector here.

In Singapore, childcare centres are now less viewed as places providing custodial care by child-minders. Increasingly, they are seen as education providers with qualified teachers who have professional ECCD training. Even with a rapidly expanding childcare sector, we in Singapore are working hard to address the shortage of teachers through training. Education is one of SIF’s key focus areas and we are grateful for this opportunity to share our expertise and experiences in this area so that future generations of the Myanmar children can benefit from education and training.

Since 2013, a team of Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs – ECCD experts – helped build a core group of 60 trainees made up of principals and early childhood educators from Yangon and Mandalay. They were equipped with the knowledge and pedagogical skills to teach English to pre-schoolers. Over the two-year project, we worked hand in hand to design English lesson plans using a variety of tools such as multimedia resources and included content that is contextualised to the local ECCD curriculum; as well as devised teaching methodologies such as games, songs and stories to better engage students. We look forward to having this core group of trainees further share their newfound knowledge, thereby enhancing the capabilities of more of their peers, ensuring the sustainability of this project.

The outcomes of this project are truly encouraging. At least eighty per cent of the trainees reported improvement in their skills after the training. I am also heartened that the ECCD Resource Book, which was co-authored by Singaporean volunteers and Myanmar early childhood educators and the result of a 10-year collaboration between the SIF and the Department of Social Welfare, was used as a training resource in this current project.

This project – Teaching English to Pre-Schoolers – truly demonstrates the good that can happen when communitiesconnect, collaborate, and effect change. At the SIF, we believe in harnessing the power of networks fostered between Singaporeans and world communities through our programmes. And when we come together to share resources to solve common challenges, we can make a difference together, and positively impact lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to SIV team leader Dr Khoo Kim Choo and her team of specialist volunteers for generously contributing their time and skills to this project. Dr Khoo has been passionately sharing knowledge with her Myanmar counterparts in various ECCD projects over the past decade, building professional and personal ties. Even with the conclusion of this project, I am certain that the bonds of friendships forged among the ECCD professionals will only continue to strengthen the friendship between our two countries.

To all our Myanmar partners and friends, we thank you for your trust and for being part of a better world we envision – one that is peaceful, inclusive and offering opportunities for all.

Thank you and have a pleasant day ahead.

 

 

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