According to Channel News Asia, despite needing another 3000 teachers in the early childhood education sector, it is still extremely difficult to have more childhood educators in Singapore.
Ms Syairah Zahira Azhari was among one of the aspiring childhood educators, but later quit as she learnt about the harsh working conditions at a pre-school:
Some of them are very particular about what exactly has happened to their children, even like a small scratch – sometimes we didn’t how that had happened. But they’d question (us) – What happened? Why weren’t you … attentive?
Childhood educators have to bother about the smallest of things: energetic children, chasing for homework, ensuring their safety, the occasional cries. The emotional labour that early childhood educators undergo cannot be understated.
Ever spent a full day with a child? Know how much energy a child has, and how you feel exhausted at the end of the day? Now multiply that by 15 children, five days a week.
And yet, we’re only scratching the surface. Early childhood educators still have to communicate with parents, handle administrative tasks, report to management, among other things.
Technology as a solution?
For the most tedious of tasks, Sun Ho has created a management app, LittleLives, in hopes of alleviating the emotional burden brunt by such educators. LittleLives strives to take away all the administrative work from educators such that they can focus on teaching.
Sun Ho believed in harnessing the power of technology:
My affinity for technology led me to pursue a degree in Computer Science in NUS and subsequently a career as a software engineer. Technology allows you to build solutions to problems, measure the results, and then tweak and evolve the solution.
Sun Ho focused on education since it “made a big difference in my life”.
She does admit going into early childhood education specially by chance.
LittleLives has also partnered DBS in enabling digital payment for one in three pre-schools. In doing so, families can easily purchase uniforms, pay for field trips, and sign up for extra-curriculars through the application and DBS’ integration.
Digitalising payments makes the process easier:
By partnering LittleLives, we hope to take the hassle out of payments so pre-school operators can better manage their cash flow. By building payments capabilities into the app, we have made banking invisible and seamless, so pre-school operators can channel their energy and resources back into building their business.
Do you know what children learn in preschool? On top of basic numeracy and literacy, they learn to name their feelings, discover the world around them, play and share with their friends, not to give up after falling, and many more skills we need in life.
LittleLives understands that early childhood education focuses on the holistic development of children, while caring for their mental and physical well-being.
The application currently serves thousands of preschools throughout Singapore.
The early childhood education industry is often sidelined, with many individuals not wanting to enter the sector completely due to the immense challenges.
Sun Ho understands that it is essential to be there for a child in the earliest stages of development.
Sun Ho understands that being there for a child at their earliest stages of development and their accompanying delivery of education is of paramount importance.
Being able to streamline the very mundane tasks gives them space to truly spend time and be with the students. It gives teachers a break from other tasks so as to ensure that they are able to focus on what truly matters.
In the grander scheme of things, initiatives such as this application can truly help increase efficiency in reducing efforts pertaining to administrative matters. While it will still take much effort in attempting to reduce the emotional labour that early childhood educators face, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
May applications such as this, as well as other innovations allow for the early childhood education sector to be more inviting as a workforce.