SINGAPORE: The Government’s recommendation that Singaporeans take advantage of the growing demand for local employees in the international job market and explore job opportunities abroad, made in the recently released Forward Singapore report, has sparked the interest of many workers. However, married Singaporeans considering working overseas have expressed deep concerns about the impact on their children’s education when they eventually return to Singapore.

One such case is Safira, a Singaporean who had the experience of living abroad with her husband and their children. Safira shared her story with TODAY, revealing that her Primary 4-aged children struggled to adapt to the education system upon their return to Singapore. This issue became even more pressing when the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) approached two years later.

Safira recalled, “My children had no idea about exams when they came back, but two years later, they had to deal with the PSLE. Frankly speaking, I was very worried at the time.”

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Talent recruitment companies have reported that multinational firms highly seek Singaporeans due to their perceived intelligence, capability, and motivation. However, the biggest concern for parents considering working abroad is how their children will integrate into the local education system when they return to Singapore.

Some speaking to TODAY expressed concerns that children under the age of seven or eight may not face significant issues, but as the crucial Primary 6 PSLE exam approaches, many children who are used to different education systems may find it challenging to catch up with their peers.

In addition to the academic concerns, parents speaking to TODAY highlighted the challenges associated with moving their families to foreign countries, which can result in substantial changes to their work and social lives.

Safira suggested that the Ministry of Education should provide tutoring and support for students returning from abroad to help them integrate into local education and campus life.

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She shared her experience of her child entering a Singaporean primary school in 2018, noting that the school rejected her request for counselling, believing it unnecessary. Safira stressed the need for counselling services, not only for children with family problems but also for those who have returned from overseas.

Some have even proposed that the government consider waiving the PSLE for children returning from abroad.

The argument is that these students have received a different education abroad and suddenly face intense competitive pressures upon their return. While the examination cancellation may help alleviate the challenges these students face, it is uncertain whether the authorities will seriously consider such a request.

As more Singaporeans contemplate opportunities abroad, the government faces the task of addressing these concerns to ensure that the education and well-being of returning children are adequately supported.