Childhood Education: Back to Basics

Lien Foundation had recently released a report which ranked Singapore at 29th out of 45th countries, in terms of adequate childhood education provided.

Minister of State for Education and Defence Lawrence Wong had said that his ministry will look into the report findings and recommendations, in their current review of childhood education in Singapore.

I had chanced upon a debate as to whether childhood education should become a public good or privatised, or if it should as a spectrum.

Achieving Affordable Childhood Education

I think, regardless of whether childhood education becomes a public good in totality or privatized, it is important that we draw back to the fundamentals, and the idea is to provide children with accessibility to, and quality education. And this has to be highly subsidized or free education, in my opinion.

The question then would be – where would the money come from? It has been shown that the Singapore government has one of the lowest government spending, as a proportion of GDP, for social spending – education and healthcare – so it would have the resources to provide childhood education at a much lower cost to benefit our children.

Ensuring Quality Childhood Education

Secondly, the quality has to continue to be maintained because the argument is that if it becomes a public good, standards might drop. But if it’s privatized, even if quality improves, companies are profiteering. Regardless of the shape it takes, it is the role of the government to ensure that the quality is maintained – be it whether it’s a public good where the government ensures quality within its own system or the government acts as a regulator for privatized education.

Either way, the fundamental principles are to provide relatively low cost and quality education. Regardless in what form it takes, there are ways to achieve this. But the fundamentals must be right.

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