It would appear that the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will be offering free modules to part time students who marry or have children during their course of study. While I understand Singapore’s desperate push to encourage more babies, I wonder if this is taking a step too far in the wrong direction.
Firstly, bringing a child up responsibly does not end with birth. Along with the resources to provide the child with the basic necessities of life, a parent will also need to invest his or her time into nurturing that child. I would assume that many part time students are part time because they are also in the workforce. Between study and work, is it really the most conducive time to have a child? Would it be the most responsible time to have a child given that the individual would hardly have any time?
Secondly, does this not prejudice part-time students who are perhaps not in a position to have a child? What if they are infertile or in ill health. Is this not an act of blatant and ignorant discrimination?
Offering part time students who get married free modules is yet another means of stigmatisation and discrimination. This type of incentive completely ignores the realities of dating and marriage. It doesn’t mean that just because you want to get married that you will find someone you are compatible with. Many people want to get married but may not have had the opportunity to meet someone compatible. Is this system punishing those who do not have the chance to meet a life partner?
I can understand offering free modules to students who either cannot afford the course or who show outstanding performance. These are related to study. Marriage and having children however are completely unrelated to studying. I fail to see any direct correlation between offering free modules and the encouragement of marriage and procreation. Is the offering of free modules in this manner just a pointless exercise of “shaming” those who are childless and/or unmarried?
Lastly, why has the writer of this Straits Times article only quoted people who are in favour of the scheme? To get a balanced picture, surely both sides of the fence would need to be represented? The media has a duty to report news objectively and to do that, a wider spectrum of people need to be spoken to and interviewed. This just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.