Name of Recipient:
Mr. Joseph Toh
With the pressure to provide the best pre-school education for their children, and coupled with the high fees for childcare these days, parents have a tough time figuring out which centre is able to provide the best, yet affordable pre-school experience. One centre that prides itself on fulfilling both criteria is Sparkle Stones Educare Centre, a childcare centre that already has ten years of experience in the early childhood education industry.
Established in May 2004 by Mr. Joseph Toh, Sparkle Stones Educare Centre is located at Rivervale Drive in Sengkang, and has been serving the local residents for over ten years. Sparkle Stones Educare Centre primarily provides full day childcare for children of eighteen months to six years old. Currently, they are the only childcare centre in Sengkang that is open until 7.30pm at night, allowing more working parents the convenience of picking up their children after their own working hours.
For Mr. Toh, the reason for venturing into the childcare industry was largely a personal one. He shares, “It all started when my son was old enough to go to childcare, but when we sent him to one, he had some problems adapting to the centre, and it was difficult to see him that unhappy.” Thus, when his ex-partner, who already had prior experience managing a childcare, approached him to establish one in 2003, he began to give the matter serious thought.
“I thought, ‘Why not?’ At that time, I already had my second child in 2001, and I wanted to give my daughter a different and better experience in childcare. Through looking after my children, I had discovered the joy of looking after children, and with this opportunity, I would be able to do something about the childcare experience.” With this spurring him on, Mr. Toh and his ex-partner opened Sparkle Stones Educare Centre.
As a male childcare centre operater, Mr. Toh knows it is an uncommon sight. “Being a male in a female dominated industry, it is up to us to change the mindset of people, especially parents. They often ask if I am a teacher. But with more and more male operators around, hopefully this will change the way we are viewed.” In addition, as Sparkle Stones Educare Centre is located at the site of a previous childcare centre, Mr. Toh has experienced several unhappy clients of the previous centre showing up to express their displeasure. “We explained to them that we are not affiliated with the previous childcare, and we are not following the same methodology.”
To counter these challenges, and to encourage parents to place their children with them, Mr. Toh implemented several policies. “Besides the extended hours, we have also tried our best to keep our fees affordable, as we know how expensive pre-school education can be. Also, we are trying to build a team of dedicated teachers. For me, I believe that having the qualification and having passion for children are two different things. Unfortunately, there are always teachers who come in for money, so we are very strict in terms of the hiring of teachers.”
With Sparkle Stones Educare Centre now at full capacity, it is evident that their efforts for the past ten years have been a success. They have also been acknowledged by the ECDA for being an outstanding PEPs program partner. “Many parents do not have child raising experience. So for the past three years, we have tried to work with parents, to help them adapt to having a child in their lives. Many parents appreciated us for integrating this program, and it helped to advise them of the importance to provide not only material and educational, but also emotional and psychological needs for their children.”
Now as an experienced childcare centre director, Mr. Toh is well aware of the elements that are needed to achieve the success Sparkle Stones Educare Centre has achieved today. “Trust. It is one of the most important things, in order to have a business that can last. Between the parents and us, the teachers and us, we are able to build up trust in the whole community.” Besides trust, Mr. Toh also believes passion is integral in business. “Especially in this industry, one must also really have passion and love for children. Therefore, if you come into this line for money, it will be difficult for them to stay.”
Sparkle Stones Educare Centre hopes to expand their premises soon, but the number of teachers is a concern. Mr. Toh said, “We had hoped to expand two years ago, but teachers are hard to find. So any expansion will be subjected to finding the right people for the job.” But under the experience and expertise of Mr. Toh, Sparkle Stones Educare Centre looks likely to overcome this latest challenge, and remain at full capacity for the foreseeable future.
145 Rivervale Drive #01-529
T| 6489 0343
F| 6489 0352
Back to Award Page