WE don't find Singapore a conducive place to raise children.
This was what a significant 30 per cent of 1,256 respondents said in an online survey.
The results, released on Tuesday, showed that 51 per cent considered Singapore a conducive place while the remaining 19 per cent did not have an opinion.
These findings are telling, considering Singapore's reputation as a safe place with a world-class education system.
The online survey was conducted by MyMailMoment.com, a lifestyle research portal of SingPost, to coincide with National Day.
It was part of a broader survey of 2,017 people, who were asked their opinion on nationalism, politics, job environment and cost of living.
The respondents were aged from 16 to 74 - with the bulk (66 per cent) being 21 to 40.
Men made up 59 per cent of the respondents
The education system here was cited as a major reason for Singapore being unconducive for raising kids.
The respondents said it was too tough and demanding.
Another reason was the difficulty in striking work-life balance.
Said Madam Judy Kho, 49, a mother of two boys aged 17 and 15: 'The education system is tough for the kids. There's so much homework and every one seems to be striving for good results all the time.
'It always seems to be about getting all As for the exams.'
She said that her children seemed to be missing out on their childhood.
Said Madam Kho: 'I see them spend most of their time studying. They bury their heads in their books and mug for exams.
'I'm not sure if this is the place for kids to have a good childhood anymore. I especially pity those who are not doing well academically. They seem to suffer the most.'
Another parent, Mr Mashor Silar, 49, who has two sons, 24 and 15, agreed.
He said: 'It's not the same as when we were growing up.'
Educators contacted by The New Paper had mixed feelings about the survey.
Said Ping Yi Secondary School principal Julia Woo: 'I had a fun time in school when I was growing up. It's different now for my children.'
She said her children, a second-year NTU student and a second-year JC student, work very hard to keep up with their peers.
But she added that the challenges faced by kids today are different from those of her generation.
She said: 'We have to be able to innovate and be flexible. This is all part of progress. And we have to prepare our kids for these challenges.'
Parents can also help their children cope, she said, by stressing work-life balance.
But not all thought that Singapore was a tough place to bring up children.
Consultant psychiatrist Brian Yeo cited Singapore as one of the best places in the world to raise kids, because of its safety.
He felt that often, the problem was in dealing with one's own expectations,
He said: 'If you want your kids to have a tertiary education, then it becomes more challenging and stressful.
'But in comparison to kids from other countries like Korea - where the education system is even more stressful - students here have an advantage in terms of language. Once they go to university abroad, they can at least speak English.'
There were also those who questioned the survey itself.
Consultant clinical psychologist Danny Ng, 47, said he was cautious about such surveys as they are convenient avenues for people to express their unhappiness.
He said: 'People sometimes tend to complain in such surveys. Happy people, in general, do not do surveys.'
Mr Ng agreed that Singapore is a good place to raise children.
He said: 'Look at other countries, where it's not safe for girls to travel in public transport at night.
'Singaporeans also tend to make quick judgments based on their holidaying abroad. You cannot compare Singapore to another country if you have just gone there on holiday.
'You must live in the foreign country for at least three to five years before comparing it to Singapore.'
About the survey
- MyMailMoment, an initiative by Singapore Post, has held 14 online surveys this year on subjects like lifestyle, money matters and travel.
- The two National Day-related surveys were conducted between 17 Jun and 29 Jul.
- Respondents had to register with the portal and were given a user name and password, to prevent them from doing the survey more than once.
- Of the National Day poll respondents, 87 per cent were Singapore citizens. The rest were permanent residents and foreigners living here.
- On completing the 26-question survey, respondents could claim points redeemable for prizes.
- MyMailMoment started in January and has 8,000 registered members.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Aug 7, 2008.