Consider mediation for disputes over parental education support

Students at a polytechnic in Singapore.
Students at a polytechnic in Singapore.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It seems that now there is a necessity for parents to be responsible for tertiary education overseas for their children. This is forced upon parents by a clause in the Women's Charter ( Parents obliged to support children's education, Aug 29).

And this even though our local universities are already among the top ranked globally.

What if a child purposely forfeits his opportunity to study locally by not applying himself assiduously, simply because he knows he can cop out and has a far cushier time pursuing a degree in a foreign university?

What incentive is there for a student to fight for a place in our own tertiary institutions if he is conscious the courts can be depended upon to mandate that his parents spend an inordinate amount of money shipping him overseas to complete his education?

Many parents are leery of sending impressionable teenagers overseas where they may imbibe ultra-conservative or radical views, adopt laissez-faire attitudes towards sex or drugs, and a less deferential standpoint towards elders.

With the law as it stands, they will be forced to spend big money on an undertaking that they may have great reservations about, even if they can afford it.

When the converse applies and parents claim maintenance from children under the Maintenance of Parents Act, the services of either the tribunal or Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents for mediation can be used without resorting to the courts.

Conciliation services should also be made available where education support for children is in dispute, and factors other than affordability should be mentioned.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2019, with the headline 'Consider mediation for disputes over parental education support'. Print Edition | Subscribe