Views from Daddy M
|Source : The Straits Times|
The 2 family related measures that would interest most are
1) Paternity Leave
2) Pre School Education
This has been a long overdue issue. Most companies would give 2 days paternity leave ( which in most cases only covers the delivery process of newborns). Given that parenthood is a duo effort ( that is why it is called parenthood , not Mummyhood or Daddyhood) , it is about time Daddies get some time off to accompany the newborn.
It may be a week, it may be a month or even more. Regardless , it is a good time for Daddies and child to bond during this period of paternal leave. In addition, it allows the Mummies the much needed rest after delivery. A nanny is good to have, but a nanny or a helper would not be able to replace Daddy's role in parenthood.
After all, making babies takes 2. It only makes more sense if the upbringing of kids to actively involve both parents instead of 1. Having paternity leave to kick start this journey is a good start for parenthood.
However this measure may not serve its main purpose of raising the birthrates in Singapore. Most of the gripes on Parenthood are on costs. Cost of living is extremely high in Singapore with spiralling inflation affecting housing, car and general expenses. Maternity benefits such as tax break and incentives were introduced to encourage working mothers. However in today Singapore, it is no surprise to see both Mother and Father working for a decent household income. Thus such benefits serve limited incentives for having children in Singapore.
We propose additional measures to be considered
(Disclaimer : there are other well intention measures proposed by NTUC as well as PAP woman's wings. The Wacky Duo are not endorsing any of the above policies(some of it rather draconian), rather we would like to contribute our own take and hopefully some of it will be considered in future measures)
- Tax benefits for Daddies in the workforce - Similar to tax benefits for mummies
- Incremental childcare leave for every child in the family
- Housing benefits for families with kids
- COE benefits for families with kids
- Lower Childcare cost or limit the cost a childcare can charge
- Family packages for Singapore Attractions
- Discount cards for essential groceries / baby items for families with children
On this subject of pre-school education, we think that it is good that the government are looking into pre school education standards. Given that the standard of pre school could be wide compared from one to another, it would be good to give a guideline on what is to be expected. However to completely standardized pre-school would not be encouraged. After all this period is meant to nurture a child's foundation and interactions. To fully focused on education may be detrimental as it would lead to additional stress for young kids. Given Singapore 'Kiasu' mentality, such a notion is best discourage.
That bring us to the subject on enrichment classes. Enrichment classes are an obsession to parents in Singapore. Most are often searching for the best for their kids and would not think twice about sending the kids to a enrichment classes that packs the weekend. We are not discouraging enrichment classes but we felt that there should be a balance to it. Not all classes should be academic in nature and alternatives such as Art, music, gym , dance classes should be encouraged. Nevertheless weekends should not be all about classes. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Let preschools focus on the children's formal education and let enrichment classes enrich their knowledge of other forms of education. Enrichment classes are meant to enrich , not enslave.
We suggest to have at least 1 free day during the weekend for the child to enjoy other activities. In addition, there should not be more than 2 'enrichment' classes in a day. Nothing beats an education of life experiences. As you can see, The Wacky Duo loves exploring Singapore and doing different things on weekends.
Lastly, we would like the new statutory board to look into cost as well. It does cost and arm and a leg to get into childcares and preschool in Singapore. With standardized fees, it would make the cost of raising a child more palatable. In addition, it may remove the 'Elitism' mentality found in some schools (the irony is that ; such high fees in turns feeds into its popularity in today's Kiasu society) . Hopefully this will equate to a sense of balance and equal opportunities for all in preschool educations.
Anyone with any other ideas on the above measures, feel free to contribute by leaving a comment. Your suggestions will only make Singapore a better place to live in for all.