TL;DR – Our social services need to evolve to meet the changing needs.
Singapore has just turned 52.
For a nation, that is pretty young. In that short span of time, Singapore underwent some pretty amazing transformation. Just look at the Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay, where PM Lee delivered his National Day message.
When Singapore became independent, that spot was open sea. But our founding leaders had a vision of turning that area into a bustling commercial, residential and lifestyle hub, a vibrant new downtown for the city.
Turning vision into reality
Over the decades, we reclaimed the area, and built Marina Central, Marina South and Marina East. We turned the vision our founding leaders had into reality. This was done even while we had to deal with many pressing concerns. Our leaders looked beyond our immediate problems and prepared for the more distant future. Now we are enjoying the rewards of their foresight and vision.
PM Lee highlighted that we are in a similar situation today. We have to deal with many urgent issues, domestically and externally. These include terrorism, the risk of protectionism threatening trade, upgrading our economy, and ensuring that our students and workers master new skills and keep up to date with technology. But PM Lee also pointed out that “even as we deal with these present issues, we must also look beyond the horizon, and prepare for the future.”
And one of the key things that we need to prepare for the future is to give a good start to each and every Singaporean through high quality and affordable early childhood education. PM Lee said:
“We must prepare young Singaporeans for the new world. We want every child to have a good start in life, and a bright future. We have been investing in preschools, because the early childhood years make a big difference to children not just academically, but for life. We will create more preschool places, raise the quality of preschools, and upgrade the profession of preschool teachers.”
That’s something that the government has started doing with KidSTART. With PM’s message, it seems that more will be done. And more agencies and organisations will be brought in to give the next generation a great start to life.
Same mission, evolving methods
One such organisation is NTUC.
As Mr Chan Chun Sing, Secretary-General of NTUC said during NTUC’s National Day Observance Ceremony, NTUC will leverage their different services to cater to the changing employment and social needs of working people to remain relevant to them.
And that includes early childhood education and care. NTUC First Campus (NFC) was first set up in 1977 to provide childcare services so that both parents can work. 40 years on, it has evolved. It aims to be a preschool of choice, where every family would want to be able to send their child to.
And that is just one example of how NTUC, along with other government and government related agencies are evolving to meet the changing social needs and challenges.
And while the times are now uncertain, just as we have done so in the past, we can hopefully overcome similar challenges again.