5 signs Singapore has finally realized it’s 2016

There’s no doubt that Singapore is one of the most advanced countries in the world. We’re near the top when it comes to HDI, GDP and all the acronyms that matter, and when a lifestyle trend sweeps the world, you can bet Singapore will be among the first to embrace it (and then run it into the ground). Yet, there are many surprising areas where Singapore continues to fall short. That might be changing if these developments are anything to go by.

SIA hires its first women pilots

Pop the champagne, women now have every opportunity to become pilots in Singapore! What? You mean Singapore Airlines is “the last Singapore passenger carrier – and quite possibly major global airline – to hire women pilots”? Well, better late than never. We’re looking forward to meeting this new “Singapore Girl”.

Single mothers finally get equal treatment (well, almost)

After months of reviews, the government has finally announced that single mothers will enjoy some of the same benefits as their married counterparts. Their eight weeks of maternity leave has been upped to the standard 16 and their children will be eligible for Child Development Accounts. However, single mothers still won’t receive Baby Bonus gifts or parenthood tax rebates, and they’ll have to wait until they’re 35 to get their own flats under the HDB’s singles scheme. No word on what support will be provided for facing moral crusaders who ask whether this move will “encourage promiscuity”.

Dads get to be dads

Now more than ever, raising kids is a team effort that requires contributions from both parents. Previously only eligible for one week of paid paternity leave, Singaporean fathers can now look forward to spending a lot more time with their newborns. The one week has been doubled to two weeks, and they also have the option of sharing four weeks of the maternity leave available to their wives (up from one week). On top of the one week of childcare leave and one week of unpaid infant care leave already available, this means a Singaporean dad can take up to two months off work in his child’s first year. The changes will be implemented in stages from Jan 1, 2017.

Singapore’s education system makes a “paradigm shift”

The days of rote learning are over! Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng has declared a need for Singapore to look beyond academic excellence. “Currently, despite our efforts to move towards a holistic education, there is still a narrow emphasis on academics and paper qualifications,” Ng said. “This is deeply ingrained in our culture, translated into the expectations of our children, parents, and teachers. Eventually, this is perhaps even manifested in employer mind-sets in workplaces.” Gee, we wonder where such a culture came from.

We’re looking at ways to go “car-lite”

While not popular with everyone, the move towards a more “car-lite” Singapore is essential in the face of climate change and a growing population. The mooted licensing for Uber and Grab drivers turned out to be relatively hands-off, car sharing options are growing, the government is looking at six potential cycling routes to connect housing estates to the city within 30 minutes and car-free days are all the rage.