Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing has stated that new child care, kindergarten and school staff members are required to obtain medical clearances before they commence work under the Child Care Centres Act and Education Act.
This was his response to questions filed by Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong who asked the Minister for Social and Family Development, how many cases have there been of schools and childcare centres allowing potential teachers or staff to start work before they have passed the pre-employment medical screening for the past three years and what actions have been taken against these schools and childcare centres.
Mr Chan said that the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) requires childcare centres and kindergartens to register their staff members and declare on-line that this requirement has been adhered to.
“ECDA also conducts random checks to verify the declarations,” he added.
He stated that one childcare centre was found to have allowed their teacher to work before obtaining the pre-employment medical certification over the past three years.
The minister said that ECDA issued a warning letter to the centre and put it on a short probationary licence. ECDA also stepped up supervision of the centre to ensure that it had put in place measures to avoid future lapses.
This parliamentary question comes after a series of active tuberculosis (TB) infection by pre-school teachers in different schools.
The first one was a foreign trainee who was diagnosed with TB in August this year. She had been working for the school for three weeks and had gone through a medical assessment in her home country and passed the test. She had only spent three weeks at the school as an observer. However, after a pre-employment screening in Singapore which was conducted by Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association, the teacher was diagnosed with active TB.
Twenty-nine pre-schoolers along with seven staff members,including teachers and cleaners, who were based in the same affected house as the trainee were screened.
Unfortunately, a 2-year-old pre-schooler was later diagnosed with latent TB.
While another case in the same month, another pre-school teacher was also diagnosed with active TB. 104 children and 20 staffs of the school all had been screened. The children below 5 years old had a skin test and chest X-ray, while those above 5 years old were given blood tests. No one was reported to have infected with the illness.