Facts about Education in Singapore

Singapore has recently been praised for its high-quality education, which has set an example for Western countries. These eight facts about education in Singapore discuss the government policies that have been enforced to achieve this success.

8 Facts About Education in Singapore

  1. Education in Singapore is obligatory. Since 2003, all children must be enrolled in school. This begins from an early age all the way through primary and secondary education. The compulsory education rule applies to both citizens and foreigners. If parents fail to have their children in school or home-school them, they can face significant fines. In fact, they can even go to prison for up to 12 months.
  2. It’s mostly free. Singaporean citizens receive primary education for free. Secondary education costs about $5 per month. While there are other costs related to education, they do not exceed $30 per month in either case (primary or secondary education). Thus, education is still made affordable to all Singaporeans.
  3. Almost everyone in Singapore is literate. According to the CIA Factbook, 97 percent of the population over 15 years of age can read and write, as of 2016. By the age of 16, it’s expected for students to have completed both primary and secondary education. Whether or not students decide to pursue a college degree or go on the technical career path, they are already provided with the basic skills to enter the professional world.
  4. High-quality education also comes at a price. Students have opened up about suffering from stress and anxiety related to schoolwork or tests. As stated by an OECD report about Student Well-Being, more than 75 percent of students feel extremely anxious before taking an exam. This is the case regardless of how much they have studied for it. More than half of the students feel stress while they are studying.
  5. Real-life skills are prioritized. Education in Singapore focuses on teaching students through theory. However, education is also taught with practice and through applying their knowledge to real life experiences. The goal is to give them all the skills needed to deal with different situations. Additionally, Singapore aims to help students build a strong set of values for the future. This includes teaching them that they live in a globalized world and have to adapt to different cultures as well as knowing their own national traditions.
  6. Singapore is a leader in science and reading. In recent years, Singapore has been able to top all countries in the PISA evaluation regarding science and reading proficiency. The mean score in both these fields is 493 points. Singapore’s score for science is of 556 points, followed by Japan, with 538 points. As for reading proficiency, Singapore scores 535 points.
  7. Teachers work longer days. Teachers work more hours than the world average. They are expected to spend almost as much time with their students as parents spend time with their children. Thus, reinforcing core values and the subjects taught in class.
  8. There is freedom to pursue each student’s unique interests. Students are encouraged to take on community-related activities or co-curricular activities. They will have a shorter syllabus, thus allowing more time to investigate and study specific areas of their interest in their free time. Singapore’s education also encourages a well-rounded approach. Schools offer subjects such as the sciences, electronics, languages, arts and music.

These eight facts about education in Singapore show just how effective established government practices are in reshaping a country’s future. They are simple laws which are easy to implement. But they have changed Singapore in 16 years. Certainly, work remains to be done. The students need a better support system to better deal with high education demands. However, the overall quality of life they can expect from the practices already implemented are undeniable.

– Luciana Schreier
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Singapore
The Republic of Singapore is an island city-state located off of Southern Malaysia with a global financial center in a tropical climate and a multicultural population. As a developed nation, Singapore has been experiencing exceptional growth in its life expectancy, that is, due to its government’s commitment to health and the care of the elderly population, one of the largest in the world. In the article below, 10 facts about living expectancy in Singapore are presented.

10 Facts About Living Expectancy in Singapore

  1. Singapore, with a population of 5.88 million people, is ranked 3rd in the world in life expectancy with an average lifespan of 83.1. The country is only behind Switzerland and Japan that have expected lifespans of 83.4 and 83.7 years, respectively. The country ranking has steadily raised an average of 0.2 every year since 2000 and by 0.1 every year since 2010.
  2. In healthy life expectancy, the statistics that refers to the number of years people live in full health, Singapore is ranked 2nd in the world at 73.9, behind only Japan at 74.9. As of 1990, the country earned a ranking of “good” by WHO in full health category.
  3. Women have a higher life expectancy than men, as they are expected to live until 85.2 years, while men are expected to live up to 80.7 years. In comparison to other countries, the women’s ranking is 2nd in the world, while the men’s ranking is 10th in the world. Life expectancy for the country, in total, is 83.1 years.
  4. Part of the reason that the Republic of Singapore has been able to establish itself as such a dominant force in life expectancy and health is the country’s expenditure on research and development in health and medical sciences as a percentage of the GDP, which is second only to South Korea. Advancements in health care and medical technology, as well as improved living conditions and better nutrition, access to sanitation and reduced risk of epidemic infectious diseases, are all benefitting the population of the country.
  5. Singapore is ranked at the first place globally in terms of the proportion of births that are attended by skilled health personnel. The infant mortality rate is down to 2.2 percent in the country. The fertility rate is 1.2 and the crude birth rate is 9.4 percent.
  6. Singapore is third globally for the lowest road traffic mortality rate and fourth in deaths related to air pollution. The country has the lowest mortality rate for cardiovascular or chronic respiratory diseases and the ones that are attributed to unsafe water or lack of hygiene.
  7. As it relates to common health risk factors, Singapore boasts good ratings in these categories as well. Its people drink an average of 2.0 liters of alcohol per year, ranking them 145th in the world. Out of the total number of men in Singapore, 28 percent of them smoke, which gives them a rank of 81 in the world, while 5 percent of women smoke, giving them a ranking of 82. Only 5.8 percent of men are obese in Singapore, ranking the country in 139th place worldwide, while the women are at 6.3 percent (182nd). Their overall happiness score is 6.34 or 33rd on a global level.
  8. Singapore has started to promote frequent check-ups to help detect illnesses early and raise awareness of preventive medicine to help its population as they continue to age. With the support of this community, seniors are leading more active and productive lives, keeping in mind the value of being busy and working longer.
  9. Studies have shown that societies with a large senior population volunteer more and value connecting with their communities. They have the time and the inclination to be deeply engaged in their communities and seniors find that it keeps them young and active. Governments could create opportunities for the elderly to contribute. Singapore’s elderly have started at home, helping with child care, and have been branching out into society ever since. They are finding that this helps strengthen the intergenerational bonds while keeping them mentally active.
  10. Singapore’s government found that people are not starting to save early enough for retirement and that they need more assistance in financial and retirement planning. Now that they are living longer, they need clear financial adequacy tools to help people address such questions. They also found that older people need to focus on eating balanced diets and regular fitness while staying busy and mentally active so that they can live full lives as they continue to live longer.

Large contributions to the 10 facts about life expectancy in Singapore are the health system and how important health issues are addressed. With the intense focus has been put on making the lives of the country’s citizens better, life expectancy is only getting longer and elderly citizens must now learn how to finance their retirement to provide for themselves longer. The government is taking steps to help its aging population deal with their new reality by stressing the importance of mental and physical activity.

– Michela Rahaim

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Singapore
Along the southern coast of the Malay Peninsula occupying roughly 718 kilometers worth of estate lies the smallest nation of Southeast Asia.

Singapore, originating from the Malay word, Singapura, meaning Lion City, is home to a population of roughly six million people, a largely non-corrupt government and a near spotless metropolitan district.

From its diverse socio-cultural community to the clean and eco-friendly urban environment, Singapore boasts some of the highest living standards in all of Asia.

According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, the country has been deemed the “happiest country in Southeast Asia”.

Among the plethora of reasons supporting this title, in the article below top 10 facts about living conditions in Singapore that make it one of the friendliest countries in Asia and the world are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Singapore

  1. Singapore has a very competitive economy. Thanks to a corruption-free business environment, pro-foreign investment and export-oriented policies, Singapore features a highly developed free-market economy. Furthermore, secure property rights effectively promoting productivity growth and entrepreneurship contribute to Singapore’s economic status as the second freest among 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom.
  2. Singapore is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. As such, its stable political climate is based on rationality and the rule of law. According to the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, his city-state seeks to offer first world conditions in a third world region.
  3. The country has an advanced education system. Singapore prides its education system for instilling students with a high standard of learning. The average number of years spent in the education system is 11.3 for males and 10.4 for females. Singapore’s three local universities: National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University are globally renowned. According to the 2018 Financial Times “Top 100 Global MBA,” they rank among the Top 50 International Business Schools.
  4. While Singapore has some of the strictest laws of nations worldwide, including capital punishment for drug possession and harsh penalties for disorderly conduct, the outcome has been a country with some of the lowest crime rates in the world. In Mercer’s personal safety ranking, Singapore placed first in Asia and eighth globally.
  5. Renowned for its technological advancements in medicine and practiced doctors, Singapore offers affordable health care and subsidized medical services through its public-private partnership in the health care system. The density of physicians to the population is 1.83 in 1,000 people. In 2010, in the World Health Organization’s ranking on the World’s 100 Best Health Systems, Singapore ranked sixth.
  6. Another positive product from Singapore’s abundance of stern laws is that the city is remarkably clean. With bans placed on public smoking and minimal traffic congestion, Singapore has maintained “good” to “moderate” range of air quality for much of 2017, according to the National Environmental Agency.
  7. For shopping lovers, Singapore is close to a dream come true. It is full of malls and department stores, carrying everything from the latest gadgets to popular clothing brands. Aside from dining and shopping, Singapore also offers a vibrant nightlife along with seasonal festivals and concerts.
  8. Singapore’s cultural network is composed of a unique array of multiple groups from Malays to Chinese and from Indians to expats from various countries. The city-state places a strong emphasis on community and racial harmony.
  9. The country has a very stable climate. Singapore’s climate resembles that of a tropical rainforest – it’s generally hot and humid year-round with prolonged periods of rain showers. The annual average high is 89 degrees Fahrenheit, and its annual total precipitation equates to 166 days of rainfall. The upside is that based on its geographical location, Singapore is generally safe from natural disasters.
  10. Singapore’s public transportation system consists of highly advanced modes of transit, including taxis, buses and the Mass Rapid Transport (MTR) rail system. Taxis and buses are also affordable, costing as little as $0.70 per trip.

As illustrated by this list of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Singapore, that despite its strict laws and seasonal hot and humid climate, the Asian city-state vaunts numerous desirable merits.

With a diverse friendly culture, progressive political system and safe environment in addition to a multiplicity of other positive influential factors, Singapore rightfully earns its name as one of the top cities in Asia for a high quality of living.

– Johnna Bollesen

Photo: Flickr

SingaporeAccording to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Singapore decreased 10 positions from last year in closing the gender gap. Singapore was ranked 65th out of 144 countries in economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and survival. Such standings indicate a need to bridge the gap and address the gender equality in Singapore.

Symbolically, the ascension of Singapore’s first female president may indicate a sign of improved broader access to politics for women; but this individual success brings Singapore only a little closer towards bridging the gender gap. The Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore remains committed to the protection of women’s rights and is taking steps to promote gender equality in Singapore.

5 Organizations Working on Gender Equality in Singapore

In addition to government agencies, there are also several organizations working to promote gender equality in Singapore by providing livelihood, job opportunities and fighting for women’s issues. Here are five organizations currently working towards women’s rights and protection.

Aidha

Aidha is a Singapore-based NGO that helps women become financially independent. The mission of the charity is that “by helping one woman, it can help improve nine more lives.” Aidha also provides financial literacy programs, computer literacy programs and entrepreneurial skills for Singapore’s foreign domestic workers and low-income women.

The organization’s aim is to help women help themselves by launching their own businesses or helping them invest in items like livestock in their home countries to better protect them against the cycle of poverty.

Aidha’s workshops, clubs and courses help students become literate in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), manage income and boost their confidence and social capital.

Daughters Of Tomorrow (DOT) is a program which focuses on empowering underprivileged Singaporean women through confidence-building, skills development and employment channeling. Aidha is working with DOT to develop a 10-session financial literacy program for its clients and deliver the first program this year.

The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations

The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations (SCWO) was established in 1980 as the national coordinating body of women’s organizations in Singapore. SCWO has more than 50 member organizations, represents over 500,000 women and strives to unite women in Singapore to work toward ideals of ‘Equal Space, Equal Voice and Equal Worth.’

SCWO provides free legal clinics — with the support of volunteer lawyers from Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL) — for women residing in Singapore who face legal issues on personal matters, do not have legal advice or are unable to afford a lawyer.

One of their services includes providing shelter for women. SCWO’s Star Shelter opened in March 1999 and is a registered charity with IPC Status and the only secular crisis center in Singapore. Star Shelter provides a safe, temporary refuge for women and children who are victims of family violence, regardless of race, language, creed or religion. SCWO empowers victims to manage and take responsibility for their lives and assists them in rebuilding existences free of violence.

Apart from meals and lodging, Star Shelter also provides trauma/crisis counseling and case management. Through the “Rebuild” Program, SCWO provides a one-time financial aid to assist victims in paying for transport expenses while they look for employment; in addition, the program also offers a no-interest home loan.

Aware

Aware is an organization which works to remove all gender-based barriers and encourages gender equality in Singapore. Aware works in three ways:

  1. Research and advocacy
  2. Education and training
  3. Support services

AWARE believes in equal opportunity for both men and women in every field. AWARE is dedicated to removing gender-based barriers and providing a feminist perspective in the national dialogue.

The organization has effectively advocated against laws, public policies and mindsets that discriminate against women. AWARE’s support services provide crisis counseling, assistance in dealing with the authorities, and legal advice to women in need. We Can! is a popular campaign which works through Change Makers – individuals who commit to taking steps in their own lives to end violence.

The campaign aims to shake up social attitudes and beliefs that tolerate violence against women. They have conducted several workshops to this end, and forum theatre to reach out to people for support. The campaign has garnered 17,000 individuals and has worked with more than 96 organizations to fight for gender equality in Singapore.

 The Singapore Committee for UN Women

The Singapore Committee for UN Women is a self-funded, non-profit organization that works towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. The organization supports the general mission of UN Women by raising awareness and funding for Ending Violence Against Women, Economic Empowerment, and Governance and Leadership Programs in Singapore and the region. 

These campaigns include the SNOW (Say No to the Oppression of Women) Gala and Buy to Save fundraising events. In fact, 80 percent of the funds are dedicated towards local projects like Help Anna and Girls2Pioneers, while the remaining 20 percent is channeled towards supporting regional beneficiaries. The group’s HeForShe campaign works in favor of gender equality in Singapore and has around 10,000 commitments so far.

CRIB Society

The Singapore organization, CRIB Society (Creating Responsible and Innovative Businesses), combines social responsibility and innovative business practices to work more from the top down with female entrepreneurs and business owners. The organization uses this structure to then help create opportunities and jobs for other women.

CRIB has a group of mentors and emerging entrepreneurs who support, inspire and assist each other, and offers seminars, mentorships, a ‘matching’ program that puts together potential co-founders for new businesses and an incubator program.

These five organizations help encourage gender equality in Singapore and provide support for women in every field including education, employment, shelter and housing. The future is limitless for where these empowered women will go next.

– Preethi Ravi
Photo: Flickr

Solve Education: Transforming Education in Developing Countries  
More than 250 million children do not attend school, according to UNESCO. After realizing that almost all NGOs only address this issue for a limited few thousand children, the famous venture capitalist Ong Peng Tsin became inspired to take a more revolutionary angle. Believing entrepreneurial investment in creative startups can increase social good for millions and eventually transforming education in developing countries, Tsin asked: 
“Can we teach without human teachers? Can you teach without schools?” 

What is Solve Education?

Gathering minds from the gaming industry, the social media world and pedagogues, Tsin then created a smartphone-based system called Solve Education. The company’s mission is to close the global education gap by taking advantage of the rise of smartphones and game mechanics to engage youths in accessible, educational opportunities.

Technology as a solution is relatively new to philanthropists worldwide, but the technology boom in Asia produces wealthy entrepreneurs looking to invest in social enterprise tech focused on multiplying impact with big-scale tech projects.

Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO of the Asian Venture Philanthropy network, distinguishes between the generation of philanthropists who say: “Let’s build schools; let’s put our name on buildings” and the newer group who’ve “made their money through tech. And if you really want to look at social enterprise tech is the fastest way to scale.”

EdTech Investments

Global investors in the first half of 2017 have poured about $8.15 billion into edtech ventures. As a whole, the Asia-Pacific region has been predicted to own 54 percent of the global edtech market by 2020. Google and KPMG reported that India’s online education market will reach about $1.96 billion in the next four years, which equates to about the $1.2 billion invested in Chinese edtech companies in 2016.

The interest in edtech investments aligns with the fact that Asia has more young people than any other continent. Parents in Singapore invest about $70,939 annually for their children’s education, which is almost twice the global average amount. China, in its 13th Five-Year Plan, is encouraging the development of online education to gradually modernize China’s education system with $30 billion in investments by 2020. Other countries in Asia have similar plans revolving around increasing tech education.   

As part of an emerging style of philanthropy, Solve Education uses technology to take part in transforming education in developing countries by incorporating educational games to teach children across Southeast Asia. Solve Education hopes to reach 100 million people in teaching them basic vocational skills.

A Powerful Organization Advocating For Good

Tsin’s self-funded initiative, this application will be based on its initial success to essentially create millions of workers that will generate revenue flow in their field. So far, the initiative is being used in the following countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Requiring only low-end smartphones and intermittent internet service, this application reaches those that are marginalized by education systems and opportunities.  

This crowd-working model is not a guaranteed success, but it does broach the issue of limited and inaccessible education in an innovative and optimistic way. It provides more opportunities for the youth, ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, women and girls, the unemployed and others that generally have difficulty gaining access to quality education.

All in all, Solve Education is a powerful nonprofit in its resourceful intersection of social good ambitions and use of rising edtech in transforming education in developing countries.

– Alice Lieu

Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in Singapore
Many facts about poverty in Singapore are not widely known. Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is free from poverty. Media representations of Singapore often show prosperous aspects of the country while neglecting to cover issues of poverty. Singapore also does not have a poverty line, so it is difficult to measure how many households are officially in poverty.

Top 10 facts about poverty in Singapore:

  1. Singapore has one of the largest income gaps in the world. Wealth is disproportionately spread among wealthy foreigners while native Singaporeans live in poverty and often have lower-paying jobs
  2. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of families receiving financial assistance in Singapore jumped 43.45 percent. This is the highest poverty rate ever reported in the country. 
  3. Singapore does not have a national minimum wage. This means that there is no standard for the lowest an employer has to pay an employee, leaving many laborers without enough money to reach an acceptable standard of living. However, Singapore does have laws regulating minimum monthly income for security guards and cleaning employees. 
  4. In 2012, Singapore was the 6th most expensive city to live in. This, coupled with wealth inequalities, lack of minimum wage laws and other factors, contributes to the continuation of the poverty cycle in the city. 
  5. Singapore has progressive taxation, so anyone with an income of less than $20,000 is exempt from taxation. However, the cost of living in Singapore also needs to be considered when looking at this minimum income. 
  6. Poverty in Singapore disproportionately affects the elderly. While Singapore as a whole has increased 43.45 percent in the number of families relying on government assistance between 2012 and 2015, residents over the age of 60 saw a 74.32 percent increase in poverty. 
  7. Another of the facts about poverty in Singapore regarding age is 5 percent of young Singaporeans under 30 are unemployed. Many others cannot find jobs with sufficient wages because of the lack of minimum wage laws in the country.
  8. Many young Singaporeans rely on financial aid from the government. According to the Singapore Ministry of Social and Financial Development, in 2015, 5,644 households with applications younger than 35 years old received short or medium term financial aid.
  9. According to Singaporeans Against Poverty, the price of goods and services in Singapore increased 13.1 percent over the last three years. 
  10. The government, as well as other independent organizations, have plans to implement a variety of policies that will make finding housing, getting an education and paying taxes more bearable for poor Singaporeans.

These are the top 10 facts about poverty in Singapore. Poverty is a prevalent issue in the country and it has many contributing factors that need to be addressed individually. The government of Singapore can do more to reduce income inequality and ensure all Singaporeans are able to afford a proper standard of living.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr


Singapore is seldom thought of as a poor country since the nation ranks fourth in the richest countries in the world; however, the reality is that many Singaporeans live in poverty. For far too many people, poverty in Singapore is a fact of life.

The Top 10 Poverty in Singapore Facts:

1. Singaporeans have to live on $5 a day

Four-hundred thousand Singaporeans live on $5 a day. Singaporeans Against Poverty, the campaign whose concern is “for those in Singapore caught in the cycle of poverty despite our economic success,” began the $5 challenge, where people can pledge money and try to live on a $5 per day budget.

2. Some Singaporeans have no income

A survey from the Housing Development Board showed that one-third of Singaporeans living in one or two room flats have no source of income. Additionally, an Ipsos APAC and Toluna study found that 62 percent of Singaporeans state that their dissatisfaction is a result of their personal financial situation.

3. There is no official poverty line in Singapore

According to Worldbank, there are several reasons to measure poverty: “to keep the poor on the agenda; if poverty were not measured, it would be easy to forget the poor.” Additionally, poverty lines “target interventions that aim to reduce or alleviate poverty,” and finally, measurements help to evaluate projects, policies and institutions that aim to help the poor.

In a Straits Times article, it was stated that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong doesn’t believe establishing poverty lines will be helpful as there are great disparities between poor groups in Singapore; each group requires “different sort and scale of help… This cannot be accomplished by a rigid poverty line, he said, which might be polarising and leave some outside the definition of poor.”

4. Singapore’s wealth gap is one of the widest

As noted in the CIA World Factbook, Singapore was ranked 36th out of 150 countries for income inequality in 2016 based on the Gini coefficient, a ratio of highest to lowest incomes. This means that the high-income households are extremely wealthy, while the low-income households are extremely poor. In fact, a Credit Suisse report showed that more than a quarter of the country’s wealth is held by the top 1 percent of the population.

5. The Gini coefficient has begun to decrease

According to the Singapore Management University (SMU) handbook, the government has begun to acknowledge the wealth disparity. Although Singapore is still ranked high for income inequality, the Gini coefficient has decreased in the past two years.

6. Wages fall for low-income households

In the SMU handbook, it was stated that the bottom 20 percent of workers saw a decrease in wages between 1998 and 2010.

7. Singapore is the most expensive city to live in

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore was the most expensive city to live in in 2017 for the 4th year running. This makes it increasingly difficult for the impoverished population to afford basic necessities.

8. Increase in cost of goods and services

Likewise, the past three years saw a 13.1 percent increase in goods and services, according to Singaporeans Against Poverty.

9. More Singaporeans are being covered under ComCare

ComCare was established by the Singaporean government in 2005 to provide assistance to needy families who are either unable to work or are currently searching for employment.

As reported in the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the number of Singaporeans being covered under ComCare grew from 13,479 in 2012 to 18,996 in 2015, but the government claims this is not due to higher poverty levels; rather, it says it’s due to changes to the program.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development has extended coverage so that more families can apply for ComCare.

10. Singaporean government is taking steps towards alleviating poverty

As noted in The Observer, the government has put plans into place to fight poverty. Of these are plans are the goals to reduce the cost of education, to exempt lower-income families from paying taxes and to contribute cash payments to those in need.

These top 10 poverty in Singapore facts demonstrate the acute issues for low-income houses. However, the Singaporean government is making considerable strides to help its people, enough so that these top 10 poverty in Singapore facts may eventually become irrelevant.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Singapore

When thinking about poverty, Singapore is usually not the first country that comes to mind. However, the country faces many issues that continue to make poverty an increasing problem in the country.

10 Facts About Poverty in Singapore

  1. Poverty in Singapore suffers from a lack of visibility
    Singapore is one of the wealthiest and most well-developed countries in the world, and this is often the side that is seen and thought of. This makes Singapore’s poverty difficult to see for anyone not living in the country.
  2. Singapore has a large inequality gap
    Singapore has the most millionaires in the world, but also has one of the largest inequality gaps in advanced Asian countries, placing second on the list.
  3. 10 to 14 percent of Singaporeans face severe poverty
    Ten to 14 percent of Singaporeans struggle with severe financial issues. These Singaporeans have difficulty affording their basic needs, with hunger being one of the largest factors.
  4. Poverty is an increasing problem in Singapore
    Poverty in Singapore is growing worse with each year. From 2012 to 2015, impoverished families relying on government assistance increased by approximately 43 percent.
  5. Poverty is an issue for the elderly
    Elderly Singaporeans are the group most affected by poverty. In the same timeframe of 2012 to 2015, the number of impoverished people over 60 years of age relying on government assistance increased by approximately 74 percent. This is mainly attributed to government restrictions on withdrawing retirement funds.
  6. Poverty is also an issue for the young
    Singaporeans between the ages of 15 and 34 years of age are the second most affected group. This is mainly caused by low-paying entry-level jobs and a lack of minimum wage laws. In addition, many young Singaporeans struggle to find a job at all, with approximately 5 percent being unemployed.
  7. Many people are trapped in poverty
    Singaporeans born into poverty, especially those from more recent generations, are more likely to stay in poverty even as adults. Those born into more financially well-off families tend to have more success.
  8. Government assistance is not enough
    The government provides financial aid to any family making less than $1,900 a month. The government also provides aid in other forms such as making education more affordable, tax exemptions for impoverished families and more affordable housing. Yet, impoverished families continue to struggle, and assistance does not seem to be alleviating the growing issue of poverty in the country.
  9. As poverty grows, so does the popularity of the ruling party
    Although the issue of poverty in Singapore is worsening at a steady rate, the ruling party in the country is growing in popularity and continuing to win general elections. Many believe that the current party is not doing enough to address the issue.
  10. Singapore receives little foreign aid
    Foreign aid for Singapore has dropped significantly since the mid-1990s, and it receives only miniscule amounts from countries like the U.S. compared to what others are receiving. Even then, the majority of foreign aid that goes to Singapore does not focus directly on poverty issues, and instead on the country’s trade and economy. This lack of aid may be partially due to how hidden much of the poverty in Singapore seems to be.

Although a growing problem, poverty in Singapore remains in the background of the country’s financial successes and development. Because the issue often goes unnoticed by other countries, little aid is being provided, allowing poverty to grow and spread, affecting a variety of Singaporeans in many ways.

Keegan Struble

Photo: Google

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in SingaporeTo many, Singapore is an eccentric country with gleaming skyscrapers and a wealthy population. In essence, those with this vision are not wrong, seeing that the country is one of the wealthiest and most developed states in the world, simultaneously boasting the world’s highest concentration of millionaires. But, it is also home to the second-biggest inequality gap among advanced economies of Asia. Here, poverty is hidden. The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore uncover the realities behind a country that many tend to overlook or simply ignore them.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Singapore

  1. Upwards of 23,000 children in Singapore are malnourished. Additionally, basic needs are inaccessible to 1 in 10 Singaporeans, including essentials such as food and shelter. But, the issue is larger than just putting food on the table and providing for the family. Access to healthy and nutritious food is not a reality for most, and consequently, such unhealthy diets lead to further health issues and chronic disease.
  2. Hidden hunger is real. Hidden hunger is when someone is suffering from malnutrition without feeling hunger. This has recently become a critical problem, specifically among migrant workers where the common food staple is rice. A diet reliant solely on rice, however, lacks adequate and essential nutrients, which leads to malnutrition. To combat this threatening social issue, an organization called BoP HUB is teaming up with a Dutch-based life sciences company by the name of DSM. The two organizations are focusing on fortifying rice, the Singaporean staple, so workers and those suffering from hidden hunger will have access to a nutritious alternative to regular rice, essentially turning meals from empty carbs to healthy carbs.
  3. Relative poverty is Singapore poverty. Relative poverty, more apparent in developed nations, regions and cities, is essentially the cutoff line for how much a household should be able to afford in terms of basic necessities. Even more so, relative poverty includes the monetary minimum needed to avoid “social exclusion.” In more developed nations, there are luxury goods that one can certainly live without, but, when lacking, will likely result in being socially marginalized and significantly limited in one’s career. Around 10-12 percent of households in Singapore fall below the basic living expenditure of $1,250 per month; however, 23-26 percent of households fall below the threshold of $3,000, the unwritten cutoff line that deems one to be either socially excluded or not.
  4. The complexity of poverty in Singapore is not understood. It is easy to assume that hunger doesn’t exist among the well-educated population of an affluent city-state, but unmet social needs are real and remain poorly understood. Associate Professor John Donaldson of the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences states that “Singapore’s economy developed rapidly, and the ‘Third World’ form of poverty has disappeared. Yet, many people fall into a type of ‘First World’ poverty.” According to economists and statistics, between 10-14 percent of Singaporeans suffer from severe financial trouble and pressure and are often unable to meet basic needs. Ultimately, hunger remains one of the most prominent issues.
  5. The Food Bank of Singapore has accepted the challenge of eradicating hunger. This organization receives donations of surplus food from retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Despite losing commercial value, the foods are still safe to consume. With 800,000 meals delivered monthly, the Food Bank is helping to curb the tide of hunger and give Singapore’s forgotten an opportunity to thrive. Furthermore, the organization works to spread awareness about hunger and decrease the stigma for those in need.
  6. The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore as the second-most food secure country in the world, behind only the United States. Based on affordability, availability and quality and safety, Singapore is ahead of major food-producing nations despite its heavy dependence on food imports. With only 1 percent of the land being dedicated to agriculture, Singapore must import 90 percent of the country’s food, yet they have found a way to secure food. Through the diversification of food sources, the economy and food security are not highly impacted by other nation’s economic decline because the variety of import countries allows for flexibility.
  7. Local food production has increased. The Agri-Food and Veterinary (AVA) and the Food Fund have allowed Singapore to increase its local vegetable production by 30 percent over the past decade. Upwards of 40 percent of local farms are benefiting from the help of investment in advancements and new farming techniques such as hydroponics.
  8. Rising obesity in children and young adults foretells an increase in diabetes. Rates for diabetes in adults have already risen from 8.6 percent in 1992 to 12.9 percent in 2015. As a result of working life and less physical activity, obesity has been rising at a faster rate for the population under 40 years of age. Moreover, people continue to eat the same amount of food, but without the benefit of physical activity to keep them in check.
  9. Malnutrition among the elderly is increasing. In 2015, Tan Tock Seng Hospital estimated that about 30 percent of the elderly population were at risk of malnutrition. In such a developed country, this is a surprise to many. Malnutrition in the elderly increases the risk of medical complications, including infections, fractures and compromised recovery and rehabilitation.
  10. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. This U.N. goal of “Zero Hunger” aims to eradicate food insecurity, providing sufficient and nutritious food to the population, especially the most vulnerable, all year round. The organization One Singapore is echoing this goal through foodbank programs working to eradicate poverty and hunger.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore shine a light on the surprising challenges of malnutrition and poverty in a country of so much wealth. In forthcoming decades, there is hope that food security for the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and migrant workers – will increase. As a country with such a powerful reputation, it is vital to harbor awareness of the country’s struggles if such pervasive issues are to be alleviated.

Mary Grace Miller

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Singapore
Singapore is a highly developed nation with a thriving economy. This being said, human rights in Singapore still have a long way to go. Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are still restricted by the government on the basis that they undermine national security and religious and racial harmony.

Singapore’s Media Development Agency (MDA) requires all online news sources to register themselves and subjects them to regulation by the government. They are prohibited from receiving any foreign funding, and the government also limits the circulation of any foreign news sources in the country. This is supposedly so that the organization can maintain religious and racial harmony and national security.

In 2009, Singapore passed the Public Order Act, which requires a police permit for all group assembly in public. While this is similar to the policy in the United States, where one must apply for a protest permit, the grounds for denial of the permit in Singapore are very broad. There are far more applications that are denied than accepted, severely limiting the right to free assembly. Singapore does have a “Speakers’ Corner” which is open for rallies and protests—as long as they don’t touch on racial or religious issues, and as long as they are only Singaporean citizens; foreigners need a police permit to participate.

In 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong sued an activist and blogger for defamation. The blogger, Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, was fired from the private hospital he worked at, and the courts ended up ruling against him. This was an open denial of free speech on the part of the Singaporean government.

Even as recently as May 2017, Singapore has continued to limit freedom of speech. Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong’s nephew, Li Shengwu, made criticisms of the country’s leadership in a private Facebook post. Since then the government has been pushing him to sign an apology letter and to admit to contempt of court, but Mr. Shengwu refused and continued to point out the human rights violations the Singaporean government was committing.

Singapore has committed a number of other human rights violations, but these are very basic rights its citizens lack. Much reform is needed to make Singapore a more equal and free nation, but activists and citizens are hopeful for change in the future. As unfortunate as it is that certain human rights in Singapore are often denied, most countries started with many human rights violations before realizing the importance of granting their citizens these rights. Singapore is hopefully on its way to doing so as well.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr