SINGAPORE - To reduce stress and promote family bonding, all schools should have at least two homework-free days a week, said MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) on Friday.
He urged the Ministry of Education to make this a policy, and also called for a reduction of the primary and secondary school curriculum by 20 to 30 per cent.
He noted that just like adults, "who work very hard and are stressed", young students are also stressed. "Parents fear that even as they set aside time for their children, it is their children who don't have time for them anymore."
"I am concerned that in our desire to develop our children holistically, we may inadvertently take away their childhood."
Homework-free days "will benefit not only the students but will also ease the workload of the teachers who can then spend more time with their own families," he added.
Earlier in his speech, he had also wanted to make it easier for adults to spend time with their family.
He noted that Singapore's competitive, fast-paced culture means that families spend less time together, while smartphones mean that employees are on call even after leaving the office.
"We are pre-occupied with work even after office hours. It is a ridiculous situation."
He wanted the Government to discourage firms from encroaching upon employees' personal time. "Perhaps we can take a leaf from the French where the unions and employers came to an agreement to prohibit workers from replying to e-mails after leaving their office," he said.
He added that the public service, as the largest employer, can take the lead by discouraging staff from replying to e-mails after office hours, unless it is very urgent.
"Perhaps, even encourage staff to eat with their families not just once a year but once every month. This will be one way in which we can support strong families."