Ideal is 'a pinch of S'pore, a pinch of Australia'

Mr Sing and his wife with their children Hailey (far left) and Emily.
Mr Sing and his wife with their children Hailey (far left) and Emily. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARK SING

As a parent who has had a taste of childcare services in both Australia and Singapore, Mr Mark Sing says his ideal system would be a mixture of both.

Mr Sing, 40, an investment banker, and his wife Beverly, 40, an accountant, had their two daughters, aged eight and 10, while living in Australia. From 2009 to the end of 2012, the family lived in Singapore where their children attended a childcare centre.

The couple are both ethnic Chinese originally from South Africa. They moved to Australia - she in 1999, he in 2000 - after completing their studies.

Now based in Sydney, Mr Sing said the style of learning is very different in the two countries. "In Singapore, the kids had studies - the days were jam- packed," he said. "They were learning maths and English. In Australia, it is more catered to play and to fun and to kids learning that way. They really get you into the studies only from year 1 (age five or six) onwards."

His assessment: "I'd like to take a pinch of Singapore and a pinch of Australia and blend it."

Mr Sing said it was easier to secure a spot in Singapore than in Australia. However, he added, fees in both countries were high.

His children in Singapore attended a centre which catered to expatriates and the fees were similar to those in Australia - about A$100 (S$106) per child per day. "It is an expensive exercise," he said. "We were fortunate that we could earn enough for both kids."

In Australia, the high costs have prompted families to increasingly rely on the support of grandparents. Some families have even flown in grandparents from overseas to help share the load.

Jonathan Pearlman

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline Ideal is 'a pinch of S'pore, a pinch of Australia'. Subscribe