Formative evaluation in Singapore on skilling program for youth with special needs

Young group of students in an arts and crafts class

Presbyterian Community Services (PCS), a social service agency in Singapore, engaged CEI to conduct a formative evaluation of their EduCarer Aide Training (ECAT) project.

The ECAT program is a capacity and capability-building initiative that seeks to enable graduates of special education schools to be competent EduCarer Aides (similar to teachers' aides) in preschool settings, to attain skills for employment and increase confidence and self-esteem.

Trainees in the program attend centre-based, modular training conducted by the PCS team, where they learn to become EduCarer Aides. These youths also receive onsite coaching in preschools where highly experienced preschool teachers help them apply their centre-based learning in classroom settings.

CEI's key activities in the formative evaluation included revision of the program logic with the PCS team, a review of the ECAT curriculum to provide recommendations where gaps were identified and semi-structured interviews with trainees to examine preliminary effectiveness of the program. The evaluation enabled CEI to deepen our research experience with early years providers and contexts engaging youth with special needs.

The project is one of Singapore's first training initiatives to prepare special needs graduates for work in the early childhood sector. ECAT showed good early potential to be scaled up to a national level; CEI found particular possibilities around equipping persons with disabilities with skills to enhance employability and quality of life as well as refining staffing models in the early childhood landscape.

To learn more about ECAT, visit the PCS website here.