The policy of this blog is not to make fun of poor English — that would be self-indulgent and mean. (As an example, see the rather pointless print edition of the Sunday Times’ English as it is Broken column). Instead, we try to point out and explain mistakes we can actually learn from, particularly when they’re from people who should know better, such as — irony of ironies — the Straits Times.
Hence, the above, seen at the atrium of a shopping mall, is fair game. It is something of an irony that many who are in the business of education cannot themselves string together a simple sentence. The deliberately alarmist:
The first six years of a child’s life is crucial!
The first six years of a child’s life are crucial!
This is because, in English, the verb (is/are) agrees with the head of a subject noun phrase (years), and not the noun closest to it (life). Remove the postmodifier and we have The first six years are crucial.