PM Lee's National Day rally speech 2017: 10 crucial things parents MUST Know!
PM Lee outlines his plans for a better Singapore with a big focus on education starting at the preschool level.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day rally speech on Sunday night (20 August) showed the PAP government’s commitment to supporting Singaporean families now and in the future through a series of initiatives geared towards building a better Singapore.
Some of the key issues specifically relevant to families that the PM touched on included:
- Changes in the current preschool system
- Teaching Singaporean families how to live healthier, and
- Using technology for Singapore to become a smarter and safer city for current and future generations.
Didn’t get a chance to watch the rally? Not to worry because we have done the leg-work for you!
Here are 10 key takeaways for Singaporean families from PM Lee’s National Day Rally speech.
1. More places at pre-schools
PM Lee is continuing PAP’s commitment to every child in Singapore having the same access to education. Over the last five years, 50,000 pre-school places were created. Also, an additional 40,000 places will be created over the next five years.
2. Pre-Schools to partner with MOE
Emphasizing the importance of learning from an early age, Mr. Lee also announced a new education programme that will be geared towards children up to the age of four called Early Year Centres (EYC).
These EYCs will partner with nearby Ministry of Education kindergarten centres and guarantee all children a spot in those schools for parents who wish to use them.
Young parents, you also have a job to do, says PM Lee: have more babies!
3. Improvements for preschool teachers
Pre-School Teachers will also benefit from the renewed focus on early education. A new institute will be launched with the objective of standardising and centralising training for pre-school teachers.
The National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEDC) will be under the scope of the National Institute of Education (NIE). This means that preschool teachers will receive the same quality of education as MOE primary and secondary teachers.
Additionally, the salaries for pre-school teachers will increase. The goal is to create a more competitive landscape for these careers.
4. Support for low-income families
KidSTART, a programme that supports children from low-income families, was launched in 2016 and currently helps 400 families. The programme starts as early as a woman’s first trimester when the expecting mother can receive classes and support about raising a child. Furthermore, it provides children under the age of six access to learning and developmental support.
During the National Day rally, PM Lee said that the government has plans to increase the number of children who benefit from this programme once the early positive feedback has been confirmed.
5. Get more exercise!
According to the PM, one in nine Singaporeans has diabetes with that number jumping to three in ten for Singaporeans over the age of 60.
Part of a healthier Singapore means more exercise! Many people see this as a daunting thing to fit into their already busy day, but PM Lee has a few tips.
Start your morning with a brisk 40-minute walk every morning. Over the course of the day, aim for 10,000 steps. This is very easy to keep track of with all the fitness apps available! Whether at work or at home, skip the lift and take the stairs instead.
Mums and dads, remember: When you set an example of a healthy lifestyle to your children, you can guarantee that they will grow up to be healthy adults too, setting the same example to their own kids some day.
6. Eat healthier
The Prime Minister urged all Singaporeans to makes changes in their diets to ensure optimum health and nutrition for their families.
The number of calories people consume per day has been steadily increasing. So the PM wants people to move towards eating less and eating healthier.
Some of his suggestions include eating brown rice instead of white rice, saying no to soft drinks (sorry kids!), drinking teh o kosong instead of teh, and using evaporated milk instead of coconut milk when you cook curry.
New mums, here’s a tip for you. If you had gestational diabetes while pregnant, you may have been concerned about the increased risk this puts your child at of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life. Well, if you are able to breastfeed your little one for as long as possible, you can actually reduce this risk significantly.
7. Past the age of 40? You need to get regular check-ups!
As part of the plan to combat diabetes, the Ministry of Health will charge just S$5 for health check-ups for Singaporeans aged 40 and older. Through frequent check-ups and early diagnosis, PM Lee hopes to see a drop in the number of amputations as a result of diabetes.
TECHNOLOGY (SMART NATION INITIATIVE)
Although Singapore already has cashless systems in place, the problem is that there are too many systems that aren’t integrated with each other.
Singapore is currently lagging behind some major Chinese cities in terms of cashless transactions. Six out of ten transactions are still completed with cash.
Although the recently unveiled PayNow system which allows users to transfer money using a phone number is a step in the right direction, the next year and a half will see landmark changes in how we pay for things in Singapore including 25,000 point-of-sales terminals which will accept different types of cashless payments.
By the end of 2019, contactless payments will even be available in hawker centres according to The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office.
9. Using tech to make the city safer
Singapore is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, which makes it an amazing place for families. Now, the plan is to make our little island nation even safer!
A key feature of the Smart Nation Initiative is how it can be used to boost public safety. Another initiative that is currently underway is turning lamp posts into smart lamp posts. PM Lee explained that by installing surveillance cameras and other sensors in all lamp posts, government agencies are better able to monitor for abnormal or dangerous behaviour.
10. Technology that will help us on a day-to-day basis
Not all of PM Lee’s initiatives look towards the future. The PAP government also wants to provide solutions for the day-to-day problems that Singaporeans face. A new couponless parking system which will be unveiled in October of this year is one such example of these solutions.
The benefits of revamping the antiquated system of tearing paper tickets include paying only for the time that your car is actually parked. Mums and dads, this means no more ‘wasting money’ by tearing off too many coupons!
Additionally, the new system allows you to extend your paid parking time remotely through the new Parking.SG app, which is also good news for busy parents.
Ultimately, PM Lee reassures all Singaporeans that, “It is my Government’s duty to build for our future.” And that’s exactly what he is planning to do!
Parents, tell us: what are your thoughts on these initiatives? We would love to hear from you!