I Love Children (ILC) could not agree more with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's views on Singapore's key challenges in the next 50 years at the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership in Asia lecture, organised by the Singapore Management University ("PM paints stark reality of challenges in 3 critical areas"; last Wednesday).
One of the challenges is the current low total fertility rate of 1.2.
If it remains at that level, Singapore will face a profound economic problem as our economy will stagnate or decline over time.
The way forward is for Singaporeans to marry and have more children, said PM Lee.
This has been ILC's belief and work for the past decade, educating and encouraging Singaporean to have more children. Started in 2005, ILC has reached out to thousands of couples and those between 21 and 39 on parenthood-related matters, specifically on finances, fertility and work-life issues.
It has a mobile resource bus that covers these aspects of educating Singaporeans on starting a family. The bus has made stops at food centres, business parks, shopping malls and convention centres over the last nine years and reached out to about 470,000 Singaporeans.
Recently, ILC organised an event at a local university to share with students (between 18 and 26) facts on male and female fertility and the availability of the various Central Provident Fund housing grants to start a home for young couples, as well as to seek their views on their definition of success in life.
ILC found that 72 per cent of students believed that a happy marriage constituted one of their life successes while 75 per cent said that to be in a job they loved would be a success factor. This contrasted with only 14 per cent who viewed that having a child or children by 30 as a "life success".
ILC will continue to encourage young people to start their parenthood journey earlier and count having children as one of their life successes. It is the core of ILC's belief: a children-plenty and children-friendly Singapore, which echoes PM Lee's sentiments for a more family-friendly country.
Joni Ong (Mrs)
I Love Children