NTUC'S MY FIRST SKOOL CHILDCARE RAISES FEES FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR

SINGAPORE — For the second consecutive year, pre-school anchor operator My First Skool will be raising fees for its 111 centres.

Responding to queries, a My First Skool spokesperson said from Jan 1, the average monthly fee increment for both childcare and infant care would be S$32.

Parents were informed of the increase through a letter dated on Monday, which has been circulating online. The letter said the increments for childcare and infant care are capped at S$33.71 and S$32.10, respectively. However, this varies according to household income and across centres. Last year, the maximum increments for childcare and infant care were capped at S$32.10 and $39.60, respectively.

With the increase, parents with a child in full-day infant care will pay S$1,342.85, compared with S$1,310.75 now, before any subsidies.

Last year, My First Skool raised its fees for this year, its first increase since 2011.

Yesterday, a spokesperson said: “Annual fee increase is necessary to constantly improve the quality of our programmes and keep up with rising operating costs.”

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She added: “Our fee is kept well below (the) national median and we are significantly below the fee cap set for anchor operators.”

My First Skool, run by NTUC First Campus, also pointed out that most families earning less than S$7,500 — the national median monthly household income — and with children in nursery to kindergarten levels would see hikes that are less than S$30.76. Families earning less than S$2,500 a month will see only a S$0.31 increase.

My First Skool is one of five anchor operators in the pre-school sector here. Anchor operators are tasked with providing good-quality and affordable programmes and, in return, receive recurrent grants from the Government to lower their operating costs.

In May, it was reported that NTUC First Campus and PAP Community Foundation (PCF) — also an anchor operator — would raise the salaries of their teachers as part of efforts to recruit and retain professionals in the sector.

However, My First Skool’s spokesperson said the fee increase would not be used to fund the higher wages.

PCF, which runs 358 kindergartens and childcare centres, said it did not implement an organisation-wide fee hike. “A few of our PCF centres have raised their fees for this year and some will be planning to do so next year, while some are keeping their fees at current rates,” said its spokesperson.

It added that fee hikes would be to keep up with the rising costs of operation and when its centres provide additional or new programmes.

Another anchor operator, EtonHouse International, which runs three E-bridge centres, said it had no plans to revise next year’s fees.

The Early Childhood Development Agency noted that pre-school operators, including anchor operators, raise fees from time to time to ensure sustainability as operating costs rise, as well as to recruit and retain teachers to deliver quality programmes.

A spokesperson added that anchor operators are required to cap their general full-day childcare fees at S$720 and ensure fee increases are kept affordable for parents.

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