Note from me : Reading the views of others means a lot to young people, who lack insight due to inexperience. So, read and reflect on the views of those with more experiences, such as the writer below.
My wife and I have 3 children. We were not coerced into having 3 children but we wanted 3 because we love children, and we wanted our children to have playmates and to be able to love one another. A married husband and wife without having children is incomplete in our view.
Bringing up 3 children was no easy task. At some point, my wife had to quit her banking job to spend more time coaching the kids and ensuring that they complete their homework. We gave up substantial income as my wife’s entire income was savings as we could survive on my income. When number 3 came, we had to get a second domestic helper as one domestic helper couldn’t cope with the household chores and looking after a child. For parents with young children and no domestic help, it can be daunting. Night feeds and having to go to work the next day and look fresh without adequate sleep will surely wewar one day. Sooner or later, the body will give way and the parent will fall sick.
When children are sick and one parent has to look after the sick child and take leave, this may not be looked upon favorably by one’s employer. Mindsets and attitudes got to change.
When my children entered secondary school, we found that what is taught in school was not sufficient for our children to cope with the tests. Something is
fundamentally wrong with the expectations in exams and what is taught. Perhaps, the schools expect everyone to be able to learn beyond what is in the textbooks, teacher/student ratios are not ideal or there is too much content expected to be covered in a year. The net result of all this is that all my children had to have tuition. In an English speaking environment, all 3 of my children had to have Chinese tuition. On top of Chinese tuition, the way mathematics was taught, we couldn’t help our children much despite both my wife and I being graduates. So we had to engage maths tuition as well. Imagine tuition costs X 3. An average wage earner would be hard pressed to afford tuition so how can we expect parents to have more children? Something fundamental needs to be changed to our education system which is too stressful.
My second child graduated overseas and my number one child is studying overseas. My 3rd child is in a local polytechnic but we will probably have to send him overseas as well. Why? Because the cut off for the local University is so high for the courses they want to get into that we had no choice but to send them overseas. An overseas education + living expenses and airfare at a top university in Australia costs approximately S$70,000 a year. That makes 3 years of study costing S$210,000. Not a small sum of money. As parents, we want the best for our children and want them to succeed in life. Now if parents look at the cut off points for some of the courses at the local universities, they would hesitate to have more children. The cut off for a polytechnic graduate to study Accountancy at the 3 major local universities is a GPA in the region of 3.6 to 3.8 upwards. This would mean only those in the dean’s list at polytechnic are likely to be able to enter the local university.
The costs of housing is something not to be sniffed at. I remember graduating in 1985 with a salary of S$1,650/month. Quite a good salary in my time. A HUDC apartment could then be bought for under S$200,000. Today’s graduates get between S$2,500 to S$3,000. The same HUDC which
is 27 years older, now costs more than S$1.3m. So while salaries have increased by an average factor of 1.7X (S$2,750/S$1,650), the price of an equivalent house has increased by 6.5X (S$1.3m/S$200,000). Little wonder that couples are marrying later and are having fewer children. Inflation in Singapore has made housing go beyond the reach of most couples. We worry for our children.
Having seen the size of new HDBs, we wonder how conducive it will be for
a couple to bring up children in such small flats. The living room and bedrooms of the new flats are so small that it would be better to buy an older type A flat. HDB may want to reconder shrinking the size of its flats.
Having children and getting around Singapore was always an issue for parents like us. We remember buying a 2 year old 2nd hand car Mazda 323 when there was no COE for S$30,000 back in 1989. We needed the car to move around because bringing a baby out with a pram, baby basket, baby bag with hot water flask, baby milk etc would have been daunting. Now if we had to move around with public transport, I am not sure we would have had 3 children.
So in a nutshell, as I see it, until we solve the education, housing, transport issues, there will not be a solution to the declining birth rates in Singapore.