No more birthday treats in Singapore primary schools? Fair or unfair?

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You know that time of the year when the little one is anxiously choosing treats and goodie bags to distribute among friends? The 'Happy Birthday' time at school? Well, it may soon be a thing of the past.

No birthday treats in Singapore primary schools?

According to The Straits Times, at least 6 primary schools in Singapore have put an end to fancy ways of celebrating birthdays in school; and that includes no goodie bags, no sweet treats and no gifts.

The practice is simply to have a birthday song sung in class.

Dazhong Primary School, Pei Chun Public School, Geylang Methodist School (Primary), Oasis Primary School, Springdale Primary School and Riverside Primary School are the schools who have at present implemented these "no frills" birthday celebrations.

This decision is solely up to the schools however, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) currently has no policy on the matter.

Wait, before you say, "Aww...that's so sad!", here are the reasons cited for disallowing birthday treats in school:

  • Food allergy concerns: There is always the worry about children being allergic to ingredients like nuts, eggs etc present in these sweet treats.

  • Less junk food: Also, let's not underestimate the amount of sugar that gets into those little bodies in the name of celebration?
  • Nobody is rich or poor: What many parents feel is that, there is the inevitable comparison between who is 'rich' and who is 'poor' in the class. Some children make do with distributing chocolates, but others offer elaborately thought of gifts like personalised goodie bags.

The 'simple' child might feel slightly inferior and less cool, and might demand something more expensive from his parents the next time. Parents might not be able to spend more on class birthday treats or it might just not be their priority.

Riverside Primary's principal Sharon Siew is in favour of simple birthday celebrations and has been quoted by The Straits Times as saying, "Some parents show their love by wanting to celebrate their birthdays in a bigger way, but others love their children in simpler ways... Parents have said that this (no-frills celebrations) avoids comparison (of material wealth) among pupils."

While Mrs Ong-Chew Lu See of Oasis Primary School apparently wrote in a circular, "There is also a concern that the pupils will start to compare between the haves and the have-nots. While we want our students to build quality relationships within the class, we do not want to encourage comparison among them."

Meanwhile, the move has left many parents disappointed. Here are some arguments in favour of having birthday treats in Singapore primary schools:

  • A birthday only comes once a year! It is that day of the year the child eagerly looks forward to. If they don't have celebrations with treats when they are kids, when CAN they? And what about those awesome childhood memories of celebrating birthdays with classmates?
  • Over protecting children won't do them any good. Some parents also feel that children should be exposed to the harsh realities of life. We all went through the mental notes and comparisons when we were little, it's a part of life and the growing up process, and it is quite unrealistic to shield kids from all things 'negative'.

Well, what do you think, parents? Whose side are you on? Let us know in the poll below!


Also READ: Is it important for my child to have a birthday party every year?

(Source: The Straits Times)

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