5 Reasons Singapore Is The Safest Place For Students During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic, wrought by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, brought the world to its knees. Health crises erupted across the globe, and trade and commerce came to a halt in many places. One sector that was hit hard, in particular, was the education sector. Schools and educators were entrusted with the duty of keeping students safe while ensuring continuity in their education. This was no easy task, but in recent months, one country has emerged as a model for policymakers the world over: Singapore.

In May of 2021, Singapore earned the top spot on Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking. The country managed to flatten the curve or reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases beginning in August of 2020. Many social and business activities, like dining in restaurants or reporting to a physical office, are now allowed as long as citizens follow the requisite health and safety measures. In addition, schools have reopened and universities have avoided the risk of closure.

Whether one is a student of a regular school or an international school, the country offers safe respite and optimal learning conditions given the circumstances. Search online for either “Singapore public school” or  “IB Programme Singapore” and you’ll likely discover that school systems of all kinds are doing their best to accommodate children in manners that are safe and conducive to learning.

Below are five key reasons why Singapore’s education sector is the ultimate exemplar for a functional learning system amidst a public health crisis.

Singapore Has Taken the COVID-19 Threat Seriously

The first reason is that Singapore took quick action during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, all in the interest of protecting its younger and elderly citizens and residents. The country had a timely approach to containing small-scale outbreaks and cases from foreign arrivals, thus mitigating the threat of community transmission.

Beyond its circuit breaker interventions, Singapore has not had to impose lengthy and overly restrictive lockdowns, unlike its neighbors in Asia. The end result is the preservation of both health and mobility for members of the Singapore population, including students.

Students Are a Priority in the Country’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

There’s also widespread encouragement for students in Singapore, aged 12 years old and up, to get inoculated. According to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) COVID-19 primer, schools and institutes of higher learning (IHL) comprise a large part of the country’s vaccination program. The vaccination rollout for students officially began in June 2021.

It helps that the country observes low rates of vaccine hesitancy, and many see the value of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Though the country’s population is small, residents and expatriates alike have gotten jabbed. As of this article’s writing, about 15% of Singapore residents are now fully vaccinated with their first and second doses.

Singapore’s Health Measures Are Upheld by Young and Old Alike

Another factor that makes Singapore a safe place for its population, including its young students, is the compliance of its citizens and residents to official health protocols. The majority of Singaporean citizens and foreigners based in Singapore trust the government and follow its directives.

Both the young and the old comply with health measures like contact tracing, social distancing, and avoidance of large crowds indoors. This allowed a quick transition into a stable life in the “new normal.” One of the fruits of the efforts was the possibility of blended learning, which is a mix of face-to-face and online instruction.

Singapore Is An Early Adopter of Blended Learning

Knowing the value of face-to-face learning, Singapore’s education ministry sought to strike a good balance between students’ safety and their need for social interaction. Thus, the mode of learning currently pursued by schools is that of blended learning. Students are less exposed to the risks of widespread COVID-19 transmission, but still take away what they can from their on-campus education.

The Singaporean government has also launched various initiatives to help parents, many of whom are taking more active roles in their children’s learning. One example is the free MOE Parent Kit, which prepares parents for home-based learning (HBL) and the cyber wellness of their children.

Singapore’s Education System Is Offering Extra Support for Students

Though Singapore has advocated for the best alternatives to full face-to-face learning, some students have nevertheless found the transition to be challenging. There’s also a large subset of parents who worry that their children will not be prepared enough for their national examinations or for the application process to university.

Knowing this, the MOE issued a directive to teachers and school administrators to offer extra support and guidance to students, especially those who are due to take their exams or admissions tests. These students are probably thinking twice as hard about the challenges of the future, and the leaders of Singapore’s education system do not take that for granted.

Takeaway: On Striving to Be a Good Example in the Midst of Crisis

Residents of Singapore cannot become complacent while the threat of COVID-19 still looms elsewhere in the world. Students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders in the education sector must acknowledge that the future remains unpredictable.

But all in all, Singapore continues to do its part in upholding humane living conditions for its citizens, including its youth. There is definitely something to learn from Singapore’s efforts to establish a flexible, resilient education system that truly responds to the needs of its students.

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