SINGAPORE – It’s common knowledge that middle-income parents are able to give their children a headstart. But how does Singapore make sure that other children, with fewer advamtages, also get “as best an education as possible even before they get into primary school”?
This was the question that Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam posed on Saturday night, at a National Day celebration dinner in Chong Pang.
“Our primary school system is very good, our secondary school system is very good, our universities are world class.
“I believe that the first six years are also extremely important, and we do a lot on the preschool system – but I personally believe that as a society, we can emphasise (the latter) even more,” he said.
In his speech at the dinner, the minister dwelt on two key fundamentals to Singapore’s success: Meritocracy and equality of opportunity. While these fundamentals do not change, the Government has to constantly re-examine whether its policies are consistent with the fundamentals, he said.
Singling out pre-school education, he said all children deserved it and should get the best possible help in their pre-school years. Every child from every background needs to be helped to achieve their full potential, Mr Shanmugam emphasised.
In an interview with TODAY earlier this week, Mr Shanmugam had also spoken of his “close interest” in pre-school education. In 2005, the Chong Pang PAP Community Foundation kindergarten piloted a programme – based on the Reggiano concept – to promote innovative thinking, curiosity and problem solving skills. He has raised over S$1 million to help subsidise the programme in his constituency.
The National Day celebration dinner on Saturday was attended by some 1,800 residents. Mr Shanmugam gave out bursary awards to 189 primary and secondary school students, in amounts ranging from S$50 to S$350. – CHANNEL NEWSASIA AND TAN WEIZHEN