To most of us in Singapore, “education” in school would be the gathering of facts and application of learned concepts and skills. We also had the occasional “national education” programmes that taught us to be good citizens and effective contributors to our country. We were developed to be problem solvers who were keenly results-oriented. But God was hardly, if not ever, mentioned in class.
The skills and knowledge taught by public schools are certainly important. Every child needs to be taught skills for work and interaction – how to live in this world, how to live lawfully, how to find his calling and station in this life. However, it is much more important to be taught how to deal with his sins and how to enjoy God’s creation. Most importantly, the child must be taught how to glorify God and to love Him through all these things—for life without God is meaningless, and likewise this education or training if done without God is meaningless (Huisken, 1969).
We have thus formed a society which seeks to establish a Christian school, that we may train “our children up in the fear of the Lord, to equip them to serve God and enable them to live as a friend-servant of God” (Dykstra, 1999) in this life.
But such an education does not come cheap. To list some obvious expenses: we need teachers who are well-trained and talented in communicating and engaging their students, we need facilities and equipment to provide technical training and exposure and we also need textbooks and various teaching materials for the classroom.
Here are some numbers for consideration: Education makes up about 20% of our government’s expenditure, an estimated SGD 12.0 billion a year (Ministry of Education, 2016). An unsubsidised student in a primary school pays about $550 per month (Hui, 2016). With our lack of scale, we can expect to be paying more than this amount. It should be quite evident that a school will not be able to function without strong financial commitment.
On whom does this financial responsibility fall upon? Who is to provide this source of commitment? It would be us—every member of CERC. In Psalm 78, the call to provide Christian education was not given only to parents. Instead, Asaph gave this address to all the people of God. This implies that the youths, the singles, those without children, and even parents who have already once paid for their own children’s fees, all share in the responsibility to provide good Christian education to the children of the Covenant.
Let us consider how we can achieve strong and sustainable financial commitment to the work.
First, prior to financial commitment comes a dedication to providing good Christian education. This would require confident and sure answers to questions such as: Why are we spending so much money? Why are we paying a significant amount more than the subsidised rates that we can get at public schools? Why are we putting in so much more effort as compared to the convenience we get by registering our children at public schools? Only with an unwavering dedication to the work will we achieve strong and sustainable financial commitment—for it should be our hope that we continue to provide Christian education as long as God permits. In this intermediary period, we should make an effort to assess the benefits of Christian education and to ask questions and seek clarification in order to reaffirm and firmly root our dedication to this work.
Second, we can achieve such commitment through each member’s active and diligent involvement. Being actively involved in the society’s meetings and events will cause us to be aware of all the challenges and needs of the work, allowing us to give appropriately when required. Being diligent in studying the investigation reports of the board and rendering one’s expertise where possible will also help the board reduce expenses.
Third, financial commitment to the work will only be achieved through sacrificial giving and prioritising the work before ourselves. “Simple luxuries” like a regular cup of espresso or Gong Cha (a branded tea beverage in Singapore), a monthly meal at a restaurant or a yearly holiday all add up to a significant amount of money annually. Being a good steward of the things God gives us requires that these monies be spent for God’s kingdom and not on ourselves. Therefore, the giving up of these luxuries might be necessary if the work requires it.
Last, we can achieve strong and sustainable financial commitment to the work through the board’s good stewardship. With good financial planning and efficient use of resources, the board will be able to minimise the financial requirements of providing Christian education. Clearly defined needs and accurate forecasting would prevent members from being financially over-burdened and allow us to contribute appropriately. The men on the board, and those who assist in their research and work, are required to have foresight and prudence in these matters.
All in all, let our labours be done for God’s glory alone. And despite the many challenges which lie ahead, let us trust that God will provide.
1. Dykstra, R. J. (1999). The Great Value of Reformed, Christian Education (1). Standard Bearer.
2. Hui, K. X. (2016, Feburary 10). PRs and foreigners to pay higher school fees from 2016. Retrieved from The Straits Times: http://www.straitstimes. com/singapore/education/prs-and- foreigners-to-pay-higher-school-fees- from-2016
3. Huisken, J. J. (1969). The Purpose of Christian Education. Standard Bearer.
4. Ministry of Education (2016, Feburary 10). Singapore Budget Head K. Retrieved from http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/data/budget _ 201 5/download/27 %2 0MOE%202015.pdf:
Written by: Ivan Chew | Issue 37