Help disadvantaged children: Help their families – HDB, jobs, etc?


The focus of our policies to help disadvantaged children in their education is not enough – we need to help their families

I refer to the article “Look beyond education to give disadvantaged kids a leg-up” (Straits Times, Nov 2).

It states that “When I expressed my frustration to the friend who had asked me to help the girls in the first place, she suggested that I investigate S.L.’s family circumstances.”

As to “I visited the girl’s home, a one-room rental flat, and learnt after some digging that her alcoholic father was regularly beating up her mother” – our public housing policies have contributed to the woes of children from lower-income families, like the 100,000 to 140,000 households in absolute poverty and the 20 to 25 % (250,000 estimate) in relative poverty, according to Tommy Koh.

We should stop making money from selling the most expensive public housing in the world, by charging land costs at market rates.

With regard to “Over years of trying to help children from disadvantaged homes, I have realised that the problems they face are complex and multifaceted. And to help children such as S. L. learn better, you need to help their families” – we need to raise the income of the lower-income to a ‘living wage’, instead of continuing to have the lowest 10th and 20th percentage wages among all the developed countries in the world.

Also, we must increase our social welfare spending as we are the lowest in the world as a percentage of GDP, among all the developed countries.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.