Create opportunities to work together to help children

I was glad to hear about the success that the Circle of Care programme has seen in the past few years, and am heartened to know that the team is eager to work towards a more integrated system ("Circle of Care to cover more children"; May 23).

Having worked as a teacher in a secondary school, I am most saddened by the fact that this strategically integrated approach is not commonplace in our system yet.

Too often, schools struggle, with the support of just one overworked counsellor, and teachers wear the social worker hat on top of their long list of other roles.

There is simply no time to truly understand and solve all the problems that our students face.

Sometimes, secondary schools grumble about the poor literacy or mathematical skills exhibited by their new Secondary 1 students.

I, too, have been quick to point fingers at their primary schools. Only when I asked my class of 40 about their reading habits did I discover that not a single child visited a library with their parents in their growing-up years.

Classroom instruction aside, educational performance has deep roots in family habits and values.

Social problems are multi-dimensional and complex in nature, and our education and social services need to prioritise looking into how they may create opportunities to work together to understand our children, their families and their lives.

Instead of working in silos, inter-ministry working teams need to be formed. Each area is equally important, but until we stop being satisfied with marginal improvements, we will never be the village that works together to raise our children.

Cheryl Lie Su Juan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Create opportunities to work together to help children'. Print Edition | Subscribe