Issues that could shape 2016

Looking forward: Happenings at home

The final five of the Ministry of Education's 15 kindergartens will open this year. The pre-schools are meant to pilot innovative teaching methods and share them with the pre-school sector.
The final five of the Ministry of Education's 15 kindergartens will open this year. The pre-schools are meant to pilot innovative teaching methods and share them with the pre-school sector.ST FILE PHOTO

Transport and healthcare will take centre stage this year as a nation expects improvements in both sectors to deal with increased demand. The new year will also see new directions in housing and education, which will aim to present Singaporeans with more choices.

More choices, more opportunities for learning

The new year will present Singaporeans with more choices and learning opportunities - from kindergarten to university education and beyond, and whether they want to hone their work skills or delve into research.

This month, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive a letter on how to activate their SkillsFuture Credit accounts. It will include a step-by-step guide on how to use their initial $500 worth of credit.

There is no cut-off date for when the money has to be used by, and there will be periodic top-ups, so people can save up to pay for more expensive courses. It can also be used on top of other government subsidies. More than $1 billion has been set aside by the Government to fund this scheme in a bid to encourage Singaporeans to continue learning through their lives.

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Meeting healthcare needs of ageing society

Singapore will continue to ramp up its healthcare capabilities to meet the expected rise in demand from an ageing population.

 

The number of people aged 65 years and older will more than double from 430,000 today to more than 900,000 in 2030. One priority is to keep these people as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so they can both enjoy quality life and also not require hospital care.

Environmental health issues will also continue to be of concern - as they have been every year for decades. Aside from the perennial dengue and haze problems, there are also international outbreaks like ebola and Mers to guard against.

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Sprucing up old estates and helping rental flat tenants

A new year for housing comes with a new Minister for National Development.

Mr Lawrence Wong, who took up the portfolio in October from Mr Khaw Boon Wan, inherited several schemes, including one to help rental families own a flat again, from his predecessor who ramped up the building of new flats, and made them more accessible to different segments of society.

But the new man at the helm has also indicated fresh directions for public housing, including a focus on older estates.

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Clearing the path to ensure smoother ride for commuters

After the worst train breakdown in Singapore's history last year and a series of other rail disruptions, commuters are hoping for a much smoother journey this year.

Given the slew of measures - from new bus operators and better bus arrival standards to more trains and the upgrading of the rail system - in store for this year, commuters have plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

The Government is also expected to provide clarity on the private car hire industry, which has seen a boom with the popularity of apps such as Uber and GrabCar, as well as the use of personal mobility devices such as e-scooters.

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