Ms Leow added that as the early childhood sector continues to expand, there will be more opportunities for leadership as well as growing areas of specialisation such as the teaching of Mother Tongue languages, outdoor learning and socio-emotional development.
However, Ms Leow said there are societal misperceptions that the early childhood sector is associated only with caregiving and is more suited for women.
Lead curriculum specialist at Odyssey Global Preschools, Mr Liang Jian has personally experienced this.
“Parents felt a little concerned by the presence of male teachers. They’ll occasionally ask my colleagues: How is this teacher? Is he particularly fierce to the kids?” he told CNA.
To correct such misperceptions, ECDA has embarked on a national campaign to create greater awareness of the sector and career opportunities, as well as to foster greater respect and recognition of a career in the industry, Ms Leow said.
PRE-SCHOOLS LOOK FORWARD TO HIRING MORE MALES
Odyssey is looking forward to hiring more men, said assistant centre director Ethel Chia.
Although there are constraints to hiring males – they are not allowed to perform routine care for younger children – that has not stopped Odyssey from actively hiring males, she said. New roles have been created for them.
“We’ve learned to work around it. We have other positions for male teachers to just come on board,” she said, giving the examples of fitness specialist, art specialist and music specialist roles.
My First Skool, which currently employs 16 male teachers across 15 centres, is hoping to attract more men to the sector.
“Over the past few years, we have been very, very open to attracting more (males) to join us, so typically year-on-year we are able to see two to three new (male) colleagues joining us on the team,” said the pre-school chain’s general manager Thian Ai Ling.
“Our male counterparts – they are actually a very invaluable, untapped source of manpower for preschools.”
She added that in a predominantly female sector, it is good to have a different perspective.
ECDA is also looking for more support from parents.
“As we encourage more men to consider taking up a career in the early childhood sector, we hope that all parents will recognise the role male educators can play in their children’s development, and support pre-schools’ efforts to draw more men into the sector,” Ms Leow said.