I returned to Singapore after 16 years of living abroad. In the process of settling in, we have been very happy with the services of Singapore Power, the HDB and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
However, our experience at our children's school prompted this letter. There is no doubt that the facilities are great. What is lacking is the soft human touch.
My children were allocated classes based on three exam papers. There were no interviews to get to know them and what drives them or hinders them.
On their first day at school, we wanted to see them off to their classrooms, hoping to meet their teachers and have a glimpse of their classmates. Alas, we could only go as far as the general office.
We had to insist on a meeting with their teachers.
In contrast, our experiences in other countries had been very different. There was openness between teachers and parents. We got to see the teachers either at pick-up or drop-off time. They were just "hi and bye" moments but they are the building blocks of a relationship.
When children see that their parents and teachers can be at ease with each other, they too know that they can be at ease at school. And your child's friends know who you are. You are not a stranger in their school. It is a warm and welcoming feeling. The children learn how to interact.
Singapore has done well in many other aspects. Yet, what goes on in our classrooms seems to have changed little since my time 40 years ago.
Arbaayah Supelan (Madam)