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“What works for working mums”

Seen in The Sunday Times, THINK, 5 August 2012

What works for working mums by Jane Ng

“And while it is true that flexi-work arrangements may not work for every job, as SNEF (Singapore National Employers Federation) hads noted, the probelm is that employers may resist the idea even for jobs that do allow for flexibility.

So some mothers will leave the workforce.

And once reduced to a single-income family, cost will be a key consideration if they think about having another baby.

Some parents have called for bigger tax reliefs, free pre-school and changes to the education system to help them consider having more children. If Singapore wants to encourage women to hold down jobs and have babies, more must be down on several fronts.

Having flexible work arrangements will help. May mums do want to keep their jobs because aside from the money, they enjoy what they do, and their careers give them satisfaction. Their jobs also give them a break from being mums.

If employers could only appreciate this, more would consider offering some women full-time pay for flexible hours, worked out to suit the needs of their family.

It might mean allowing a women to work partly during the day and partly at night, depending on whether her children are at home, at school or asleep. Other mums may prefer to work part-time, or during hours that suit them.

All this calls for employers to understand the family circumstances of their women employees, be willing to work out suitable arrangements and trust them to keep up their end of the bargain.

The flexibility I have means I get to cook for my family, have dinner with them and be there when the kids are home. And I haven’t had to stop doing a job I’ve enjoyed for 10 years.

It’s more than any working mums can ask for. But maybe more of us should ask for it.”

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Government or not?

Seen in The Straits Times, INSIGHT, Saturday 28 July 2012

“Dr Khoo Kim Choo, who runs the Preschool for¬†Multiple¬†Intelligences along Newton Road, is also for the Government running kindergartens, at least the K2 level. That would standardise the curriculum and ensure all children have a smooth transition to primary school.

When there was a similar call to nationalise preschool education three years ago, then Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said there was no universally accepted model for kindergarten teaching. Imposing one would deprive parents of choice.

He also argued that bringing preschools into the formal school system runs the risk of an over-emphasis on academics.

The Government had a similar reasoning back in 1999 when it conducted a review of preschool education. Dr Aline Wong, then Senior Minister for Education, said the Government would not take over the sector but would look into ways to encourage kindergartens and childcare centres to improve the quality of their programmes.”

Dr Khoo and Ms Ho Yin Fong, academic director of the National Trades Union Congress-run Seed Institute, say they are not calling for all children to go to state-run kindergartens.

‘The Government could provide good preschools for the majority of the children. But it could also allow and support private operators who have a proven record of providing high-quality education. This way, parents will still have a choice,’ says Dr Khoo.”