Screenshot from MOE website

In what seems like a desperate attempt to boost birth rate, the Singapore government opened up a new scheme called “School Placement for Returning Singaporeans (Spers)” this year to attract Singaporean children living overseas to return to Singapore.

According to the Ministry of Education, Spers, the centralised placement scheme will open registration for wish to join secondary schools, junior colleges or Millennia Institute at the beginning of academic year 2017. It’s purpose is to integrate overseas Singaporean children into the Singapore education system, and students just need to take a single test to be eligible.

Every year, an estimated 11,000 Singaporeans relocate overseas because of better opportunities overseas. In recent years, the figure increased because of the influx of foreigners from third world countries into Singapore. A major deterrent is National Service as most overseas Singaporean parents do not want their children to waste 2 years in the army. Living cost in Singapore is ranked 4th most expensive in the world according to Mercers. The Singapore government is also highly intolerant of criticisms and has severely punished those who criticise it, and as a result, deterred many Singapore professionals from returning due to the lack of freedom.

Currently, the Singapore government is trying to limit the number of Singaporeans relocating overseas by setting barriers to a university education. The local universities accept only a small quota of Singaporeans and the gross tertiary enrollment rate is the lowest among developed countries. Generally, those who wish to migrate or relocate overseas will require a university degree to qualify as a skilled migrant.

The current birth rate of Singapore is 1.24 – the lowest in the world, even below Japan. The Singapore government however compounded the problem of ageing population by importing more foreigner adults and giving them citizenship, in exchange for short-term economic gains from the growth in workforce. When the population grew from 4 million to 5.5 million in the past 16 years, the birth rate has instead fallen further which made the government realised that it is not only the locals who are not giving birth.