According to the annual Global Childhood Report by non-governmental organisation Save The Children, Singapore has been declared as the best country in the world for a child to live in. This is the second year in a row the Republic took the title after it shared the first place with Slovenia last year.
Out of 176 countries, Singapore beats eight Western European nations as well as South Korea – the only other Asian country that is in the top 10 list – and took the first spot in terms of providing healthcare, education, nutrition and protection for its children.
Scoring 989 out of 1,000 in the End of Childhood Index, Singapore clinched the top in all eight categories – child death, malnutrition, access to education, child labour, child marriage, teen pregnancy, displacement due to conflicts and child homicide.
“While it is highly competitive, the school system (in Singapore) is regularly ranked as among the best in the world. Singapore also has a very high GDP (gross domestic product) per capita, which it invests in high-quality public services like education and healthcare. These policies are conductive to creating an environment that protect children from the moment they are born,” said Hassan Muhammad Saadi Noor, regional director of Save the Children Singapore.
The report also revealed that the city-state has the lowest out-of school rate in the world at only 0.1 per cent. This include children who are primary and secondary school but are not attending school, as well as school dropouts.
Alfred Tan, Singapore Children’s Society chief executive said “very baseline and fundamental criteria” were used in the index. He added, “I believe we can take the next step by developing higher benchmarks for raising kids, in areas such as building characters and resilience for children in the cyberworld today.”
However, Mr Tan also noted that sexual grooming and cyber bullying are worrying treats that kids this generation are exposed to. “We can be the pacesetter for their overall well-being in future challengers.”
Looking at the report, a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesperson said that the ranking that the country had achieved is testament “to the strides we have made in our development as a country, and also to the significant investments in our children from as early as the prenatal period of their development”.
In May this year, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for MSF Muhammad Faisal Ibrahim spearheaded different agencies in a dialogue with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) committee, in which he emphasised Singapore’s commitment to ensure children’ well-being are taken care off, including providing them with a healthy and nurturing environment.
The Ministry is looking at increasing the Children and Young Persons Act age limit to 18 years as per UNCRC’s definition of a child. Currently, the Act protects kids below the age of 16 only.
However, after reading the report, many netizens remain sceptical of the ranking as they don’t believe in reality the country is the best place for a child to be raised. In the comment section of ST’s Facebook, they opined that the reality is different as kids don’t have a conducive environment for them to run and play, and some kids don’t even wish to have their own children in Singapore in the future.
Some online users felt that the situation was a lot better in the past where everyone played and talked to people from different races, but it’s very different now. In today’s world, everyone only mind their own business, emphasising that Singapore back then was a better place to raise kids. If that is not all, many expressed that the current education system is bad where children are put in a very stressful situation to score well in their exams. As such, they question how can Singapore be a good place for them when they are living in a ‘pressure cooker’ environment.
Editor’s note – I have got friends who have been compelled to leave the country to work elsewhere such as New Zealand and Australia because they want their children to have a decent childhood. What kind of childhood do you have when 80% of it is about going to school, enrichment classes, studying for exams? And where there is no work life balance for the parents to spend time with their children?