Focus on building character in young children

Our personality and consciousness are moulded and formed very early, before the age of six years.

In this digital world, character building is more important than feeding children with information.

We need to concentrate on developing children to be good citizens, honest and ethical, and to consider country, home and self - in that order.

Only then will we be able to ensure social harmony and success.

Our education system has left character building to the various racial and religious groups, resulting in a plethora of social values that may or may not be relevant to building our nation.

We need to have a change of mindset.

Pre-school education should be made compulsory for children, instead of starting from Primary 1. The new plans for pre-school education, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday night, are indeed heartening (Pre-school sector to ramp up quality, offer more places; Aug 21).

The fees should be made cheap and affordable to every citizen. There is no need to build new schools; pre-school children can be accommodated in current schools.

PM Lee touched on raising the quality of pre-school teachers and boosting the funding for pre-school education.

Perhaps the effort and money used to boost pre-university education and to recruit, train and pay these teachers should be partly directed to the pre-school sector.

For a Smart Nation to succeed, hardware is not enough. We need people with an inquiring mind and indomitable spirit.

This can only be inculcated from a very early age.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Focus on building character in young children'. Print Edition | Subscribe