Speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) roundtable on population trends, Straughan said that low fertility rates can be attributed to the work-life imbalance in Singapore, as well as the increasingly stressful education system for young children.
Due to the strong emphasis on meritocracy in Singapore, young adults are becoming almost obsessed with work achievements because they are the “only mark of success” in our capitalist society.
Young adults are not paying enough attention to their love lives “because they are too caught up trying to scale the corporate ladder.”
With adults in the prime courting age of 25 – 29 years old placing more importance on their next promotion than finding their future life partner, it’s no wonder that marriage and birth rates are falling consistently.
Remove “Long hours = Better bonus” mentality
Even though Singaporeans log more working hours than most workforces worldwide, productivity levels are among the lowest in the world.
Straughan said that the lack of clear key performance indicators acts as a push factor for Singaporeans to work late in order to stand out from their colleagues, and in turn receive better bonuses.
To combat this, the former Nominated Member of Parliament suggested a revamp of the remuneration system to increase base salaries and reduce performance-based bonuses.
She also encouraged companies to be more open to “flexible work arrangements” so that Singaporeans could have the option of spending more time with their families.
Abolish PSLE to improve learning?
Straughan suggested that the PSLE examinations be abolished and replaced by a 12-year primary and secondary school system, six years each, so that children could grasp learning techniques at their own pace, without the stress of examinations.
Calling it a “major transformation for parenting in Singapore”, Straughan also suggested eradicating the rampant tuition culture and easing the pressure on public school teachers.
Radical or rational?
While most parents would be open to the idea of striking a better work-life balance, the abolishment of PSLE examinations may be a harder pill to swallow for some.
However, it’s not wrong to say that removing streaming and PSLE examinations will improve the quality of life for both young children and parents alike.
By taking away the stress of PSLE examinations, children will have more time to learn, explore and embrace education, without the stress of constantly being graded.
Parents would not need to pay exorbitant tuition fees to hire the best tuition teachers, and there would definitely be fewer incidences of young children going through depression due to stress, or even turning to suicide as a way out.
Perhaps more emphasis should be placed on children enjoying education so that they can grow up to be life long learners, instead of simply seeing education as a means to an end.
Living in a capitalist society is competitive and demanding, but one’s quality of life should always be taken into consideration.
More Singaporeans may be choosing not to have big families, not because they’ve lost their family values, but because they’re unsure of whether their kids will have a high quality of life.
What do you think of Paulin Straughan’s suggestions? If these measures were put into place, would you consider having a bigger family? Please share your opinions with us!