Singapore’s Per Capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1 was S$1,580 in 1965. It jumped to S$71,318 in 2014. As a nation, she was very poor at the time of Singapore’s Independence. Now, Singapore is very rich by international standards.
I was in Primary 2 when Singapore achieved Independence. The family was poor just like the nation. We lived in subsidised rental housing. I studied in a government school near my home.
Two things left a deep impression when I was in Primary School.
One day, I was singled out for the School Milk Scheme. I must be skinny and looked malnourished that the form teacher picked me up for the milk scheme. I remember going to a room with other children. The milk tasted good and somewhat not the same as the condensed milk I drank at home. I actually felt uncomfortable being singled out for the milk scheme. I did not feel I needed it.
The second event was brushing our teeth along the drains of the school. It was a drill during recess. This was compulsory. It appeared that we were a nation not in the habit of looking after our dental health. Some of us were not brushing our teeth. The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education came up with this event to get us to look after our teeth.
Fast forward to this day. Both the School Milk Scheme and Teeth Brushing event seemed odd now. Instead of malnourishment, we have obesity problems in some young kids. Our kids now go to dental clinics for regular check-up and cleaning. We have children going to orthodontics to straighten their teeth. What a difference since my primary school days.
1Per Capita GDP is based on Current Market Prices. Information from Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS)