The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal that we chose is Reduced Inequalities. Inequalities are increasingly evident as shown with the wealthiest 10 percent earning up to 40 percent of total global income and the poorest earning only between 2 to 7 percent. Inequalities and large disparities regarding access to health and education services are most obvious in third-world, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states. With a goal for countries to thrive and succeed, factors like gender, race, religious beliefs and economic status must be overlooked because inequalities lead to financial and social segregation. Fortunately, income inequality has been reduced in and between countries and the per capita income is increasing faster than national average for 60 out to 94 countries. To solve this issue, approaches must be universal in principal, focusing on the needs of disadvantaged and marginalised population.
There ought to be an increase in duty-free treatments and continuation of favouring exports from developing countries, in addition to increasing the share of developing countries’ vote in IMF. Regulations need to be improved with financial markets and institutions monitored, while at the same time encouraging development assistance. Facilitating safe migration and mobility of people is vital to bridge the widening gap as economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty because three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental are excluded. UN SDG Implementation Plan One plan that was implemented is the KidSTART programme that was launched in 2016, aimed at coordinating support across agencies to create a conducive environment for underprivileged children (eg. low-salary families). This plan helps both the parents and the children break the poverty cycle.
Parents are also heavily engaged at preschools and involves home visits and play areas for them. Trained officers visit the families amid pregnancy to support the expectant mother and impart skills and knowledge on health, nutrition and child development. This arrangement continues through preschool. The main focus of this plan is on the kids and our multi-disciplinary approach integrate efforts across the key areas of health, learning and development to support the child’s holistic development in their initial years. The Singapore government feels that extra emphasis should be placed on the preschool years as it vastly impact the physical, cognitive and social development of children since it assumes a critical role on shaping their personality and lifelong outcomes. Participants are supported to ensure that their children benefit from warm and supporting relationships, age-fitting and holistic child development, and a safe and secure home environment to grow up in.
It is expected to benefit about 1,000 children living in pilot regions like Kreta Ayer/ Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong/ Boon Lay and Geylang Serai. As of 2017, this programme has profited 400 families and received positive feedback from participants. This plan helped minimise income inequality as it does not limit the opportunities that one can experience because of the circumstances that they were conceived in but instead open new doors for everyone through offering financial aid to those in need. Many of the values that children from low-income families exhibited may not be as highly valued in Singapore’s meritocratic culture and with this plan, the children will not confront the same type of discrimination as they are being brought to a similar level of competency. UN SDG Implementation Challenges Plans undoubtedly face challenges when they are implemented as oversights are unavoidable throughout the whole process.
One challenge that this plan is facing is that it only caters to children living in pilot districts like Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay and Geylang Serai and the it is unfair to other low-paid families in Singapore with children. There are also low income families across Singapore in all locales and by only offering this scheme to pilot areas residents, it is unreasonable to those who do not as they likewise require financial assistance. Some low-income families live with the older generation and due to the number of people living in the household, their application to get financial assistance from external sources like the Financial Assistance Scheme from MOE are rejected and this results in them being unable to recover from their low income situation and their conditions of living will not improve. Moreover, it only aims to help an estimated of 1,000 children and there will be very limited coverage and capacity for the rest of the children in Singapore as there are certainly more than just 1,000 children that requires budgetary help. The failure for the plan to meet the demand of the number of children requiring aid in Singapore would meddle with the successful implementation of KidSTART as it will result in them losing out at the starting line, because of the undesirable circumstances that they were born in. This will then not solve the issue of social inequality as income inequality is the fundamental factor causing them to lose out and it was not reduced or eliminated.
In the context of Singapore, the aging population is on the rise and are getting lower pay, resulting in the rise of low-income families, especially with the increase in consumer spending. This is thus the greatest test this plan is facing as there are insufficient resources to the demand of families requiring financial assistance. Proposed Solution Despite the challenges faced during the implemented plan of KidSTART, one possible solution would be that organisation can start by working with the government and community centres to create a platform to allow the lower income families to reach out to them to get the help that they need. Especially those families that are living in the non-piloted part of singapore, this platform allows them to reach out for help financially if they face any difficulties.
To improve the lives of the low-income families living in non-piloted areas, government can support the organization by providing transfers and subsidies to these income groups. One of the example would be the Workfare Income Supplement scheme which add on to their income and Central Provident Fund accounts so as to create a better sense of security for the families. By giving out edusave bursary and introducing the Financial Assistance Scheme, it is another method that the government make use of to reduce the burden of certain families as well as to encourage students to work harder academically. Families with older generation living together or larger number of members in a household that fits into the criteria of the lower income group are eligible to apply for the schemes that best suit them.
For those households which does not acquire internet access or people who have difficulties using technological device such as the elderly, can head down to their nearest community centres to find out more about schemes that can better help them to ease their financial burden.
- Reduce inequality within and among countries (United Nations) https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/inequality/
- Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities (SGDF) http://www.sdgfund.org/goal-10-reduced-inequalities
- Reduced Inequalities (The Global Goals) https://www.globalgoals.org/10-reduced-inequalities