The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maternal and Paternal Leave around the world.

Recently, the Prime Minister of Singapore invoked the Swedish model as something to look to, for Singapore. For those who know what the Swedish Model is, this must have raised a lot of hope. I decided to check it out.

In Sweden, 480 days of paid leave is available for distribution between the parents. The first 390 days is paid at 80 % of a normal salary - and the remaining 90 days at a flat fixed rate. To encourage paternal involvement in child rearing, Sweden has a rule requiring 3 months of that time allowance to be used by the father. Thus, far from denying paternity leave, as is the case in Singapore, in Sweden PATERNITY LEAVE IS MANDATORY.

This is a very interesting situation, for it means that the State believes that parenting is of greater importance that mere employment. Whatever work responsibilities the father has, the State is saying that the father must set them aside to be a dad.

There is another aspect of child rearing that is different in Sweden. Child care/Kindergartens are subsidized by the State rather heavily and there is a cap of 100 pounds sterling per month for charges relating to it. Compared to a typical Swedish wage this is a modest price for childcare. (As background the CIA estimated in 2007 the GDP per capita in Sweden to have been 50,415 US dollars per head - not bad.)

Thus, the parents in Sweden have a lot of time with their newborns - and when they go back to work, they can afford childcare.

Good as it might seem, the situation in Sweden is not even the best in the world. Bulgaria, for instance, according to a Wikipedia article on parental leave, states that any mother may take 45 days sick leave, prior to the due date, on 100% of salary, 2 years of paid leave, after delivery and a further 1 year of unpaid leave. The employer must allow the mother to return to her original job after the leave expires - and pregnant women and single mothers cannot be fired.

Estonia is similarly generous. Paid leave entitlement is 18 months for mothers and it may start up to 70 days before the due date. Fathers may take paid leave from the third month after birth. Though, oddly, only one parent may do so at one time, otherwise one is unpaid. Pay is at 100 % of salary, capped at three times the national average.

It surprised me, somewhat, that relatively poor countries, in Eastern Europe, could be so generous to their new parents. It seems that their priorities are geared towards creating a society that is good to live in and that looks to the future.

The UK is not as generous, but even there benefits exceed those in Singapore. Mothers are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which are paid, the first 6 weeks at 90%, the rest at a fixed rate.

Bearing these examples in mind, Singapore's situation does not seem particularly generous. The closest examples to Singapore's stance on this are found in places such as Africa where 12 and 14 weeks of leave are common.

If Singapore is to truly address the issue of its inadequate fertility, it may need to be somewhat more bold in initiatives designed to support parents. Other countries, even much poorer ones, manage to be very supportive of parents - so this is not about money: it is about outlook and beliefs in what is important. It seems that in Singapore, saving money is more important than the patter of little feet. Of course, without little feet, there will be no-one, in future, to make money, short-term gain, leads to long-term loss.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:26 PM 


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