Singapore’s child education system is a model for child poverty, study finds

The next generation of Singapore’s children will have to be prepared to adapt to a new world, if the country is to achieve its child poverty target of 20 per cent by 2020, according to a report released on Tuesday.

In Singapore, the government is pushing for a 20 per of GDP (0.7 per cent of gross domestic product) target, the highest among developed nations.

That would see children from the age of five living in households where at least two adults are employed. 

The study by the Centre for Economic and Social Research (CEES) says the country has a system that places a heavy emphasis on family support.

“The current state of child welfare in Singapore is not good enough to meet Singapore’s ambitious 20 per percent target,” said the study, released by the university’s Child Poverty Research Centre (CPRC).

“It is clear that a strong and stable system is required for Singapore’s future.” 

The authors of the report say Singapore has “no clear policy, governance, or framework to address child poverty”.

“We need a policy, regulatory framework, and a system for child welfare that is capable of meeting Singapore’s 20 per-cent goal,” the authors wrote.

Singapore’s child poverty rate has been hovering around 20 per one hundred thousand (1.1 per cent), according to statistics released in March by the Department of Statistics.

“There is a need to ensure that the child welfare system is in a position to meet the targets in 2020, in order to maintain social cohesion,” the study said.

The report said the country needs to ensure the quality of the system to be able to meet its 20 per per cent target.

The government has also created a “child poverty task force” to work on issues of child poverty and improve the welfare system. 

It has also pledged to increase the percentage of children with an educational qualification from one per cent to two per cent, by 2025.

The researchers, from the Centre of Economic and Society Research and the Centre on Child Development, said the current system “can only be maintained for a limited period of time”.

The government is also planning to implement “a child care plan for primary schools” in 2019, which would involve the use of childcare facilities.

The study also suggested that Singapore could set up a special task force to develop an alternative system for its schools that could allow for children from low-income households to attend.

“We know that Singapore’s system of child care is a successful model for improving the child health, wellbeing and well-being,” the researchers said.

“While a single-day or three-day care plan would be a good way to meet this goal, it is not enough.

We suggest a new child care system that can provide more support for families from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

Singapore will also need to do more to ensure its children are able to complete the school curriculum.

“Singapore has a high level of student enrolment, and so many students in low-performing schools can be left with no choice but to drop out of school because of a lack of support,” the report said.

“Such an outcome is a major concern for Singapore.

To overcome this, we should invest more in children’s education and ensure their success.”