Straits Times 17 Dec 2010:
In a report that appeared yesterday, the amount that richer parents were spending on pre-school was discussed. 'High quality' pre-school programmes cost upwards of $6.2K with some schools charging up to $20K per year. Many Singaporean parents consider pre-school very important and are willing to spend tens of thousands preparing their children for primary school.
To illustrate the difference of between being born in a poor family and a rich one in Singapore, I attached another report from Straits Times that appeared today. 300 children from poor family received completed a pre-school programme organised by various self-help groups. Pre-school for these poor children is a 1 month programme that cost $10. Many children from poor families skip pre-school altogether because it is not compulsory and they cannot afford it.
30-40 years ago, the syllabus assumption when a child steps into a primary one class is he has no pre-school and he starts learning to count and his ABCs. The teacher spends the whole year teaching "A for apple", "B for boy" and so on. Today, teachers expect children to know how to read and count when the child enters primary one. For many children from poor families who have no pre-school or a poor quality pre-school education, their starting point is far behind what is needed to keep up with what is taught in school. It is a $10 one month pre-school vs $20K a year for 3 years pre-school.
PAP policies exacerbate the effects of the income gap. Parents having children are given up to $20K per child in the form of tax rebates that must be used within 5 years[Link]. Poor parents whose income are too low to pay taxes get nothing while the highest income earners get the enjoy the full $20K from the govt. Giving benefits to the rich who need it the least and denying help for the poorest members of our society increases the social divide and the disadvantages of children born in poor families. While the govt give $20K to richer parents for each child, they should at least ensure that children from poor families receive a good pre-school education - the the PAP refusal to do this show its ideological leanings and there will be no change to PAP govt policies unless we show more care for our fellow Singaporeans and their children by doing what is right.
300 children from lower-income families get a feel of Primary One
by Kavitha Karum 05:55 AM Dec 18, 2010
Three hundred children, some of whom have never attended pre-school, graduated on Friday from a four-week course to help them prepare for Primary One next year.
The graduation ceremony for the K2-One Bridging Programme was held at Bottle Tree Park in Yishun.
Pre-school is not compulsory in Singapore, and some children, especially from lower-income families, may not get to enjoy this benefit.
Singapore's four community self-help groups have been jointly organising the programme since 2006 to help these children improve literacy, numeracy and social skills and also adjust to formal schooling. The course fee is $10. KAVITHA KARUM