The issue of MOE’s review of free parking at schools for teachers has been getting A LOT of attention. I am surprised that it has gained this much traction (yes, lots of shares and buzz online). I would have thought it would have blown over by now.
Being the ever-positive person that I am, I prefer to look at the netizens’ response positively. Most people seem to support status quo, for teachers to continue to enjoy free parking. Before we go into the economics and fairness parts of the discussion, I think this support points to one thing:
People actually don’t mind that our teachers get a sweet deal out of saving on parking. Never mind about whether it’s fair or not, most people think the teachers deserve it and that we need not make things difficult. Just leave it.
I read this as appreciation for the profession. Of course, I could be reading this all wrong, I ain’t no mind-reader. Makes me happy reading it this way, so feel free to join me, hurhur.
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
For years, teachers at national schools and junior colleges have enjoyed free parking at their institutions. But things might change this year as the Ministry of Education (MOE) has just announced it is reviewing this practice so that it’s “in accordance to civil service guidelines”.
HOW MANY TEACHERS WILL BE AFFECTED?
Not exactly sure how many, but teachers at over 360 schools and colleages will be affected. I think it’s safe to assume we’re looking at thousands of teachers?
WHY THE SUDDEN REVIEW?
It’s apparently not exactly ‘sudden’ as most teachers have heard about a possible review for a few years now.
The most obvious of sign came last year when the Auditor-General was reviewing financial lapses for the government for the 2014/2015 financial year. The AG had said that such practices “are tantamount to providing hidden subsidies for vehicle parking”.
WHY IS THE AG SO STINGY?
Actually… nooooo… It has nothing to do with being stingy, you know. A hidden subsidy means that something that is of some worth is given away and this doesn’t get recorded. It’s poor stewardship of public resources.
This free parking means this ‘invisible’ transfer of value (the parking fees) does not get recorded anywhere. This implies that the deed is not transparent and also not traceable on records anywhere.
WHY ARE PEOPLE SUPPORTING FREE PARKING FOR TEACHERS THEN?
I suppose while our heads understand the need to be transparent and all, and we recognize that schools should be governed like the rest of the public institutions with the same rules, our hearts are telling us something else.
So we’ve heard what the average Singaporean thinks, shall we hear from an economist? He was as surprised as I was to see the wave of support!
And oh, Donald Low also recommended this old but good read on parking in the city. I love the last sentence of the article,
As Professor Shoup puts it: “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.”
Helping to fuel this trending topic of free parking for teachers is this sharing of a message from an ex-teacher. It’s already been shared over 6,000 times as of now.
I’ve only one word to describe the post, BOOM!
A message from an ex-teacher (which is not me):
Teachers, you don’t have to feel so upset over the impending parking fees. It’s a good move to be transparent to the public. Since the ministry wants to ensure that it doesn’t give unsubsidized parking to ensure transparency, it’s good to let MOE know that you should also stop paying for stuff out of your own pocket to ensure ‘transparency’ too. Some example of fees that you have been paying out of your own pocket:
1. Classroom deco, charts, notice board materials(excluding manpower and labour fees):$100 at least
2. Coming CNY, Hari Raya and Deepavali deco:$100-$300
3. Resources for teaching:$300(conservative estimate)
4. Remedials/supplementary/enrichment classes:$50 per hr(market rate for MOE tutors).
5. Prizes/gifts/McDonald/pizzahut/KFC treats to motivate students(varies from teacher)
6. Children’s day gifts:$100-$200
7. OT pay for staying overnight at camps, Meet-the-parents sessions at night, meetings during school holidays, learning festivals on Saturdays and Sundays, organizing events for community/MP :$50 per hour
8. Premium fees for last minute instructions from MOE for example, calling parents from 10pm-12am on a Sunday night to inform them of school closure due to haze. $100per hour.
9. Other miscellaneous fees such as home internet or using your personal hp talk time/mobile data to conference with parents/HODs(not including OT pay for doing these after 6pm): $110 per month.
10. Transport fees to attend courses that you are ‘nominated’ to attend. You can’t claim them currently as MOE have already SUBSIDIZED you to attend them.(not that you have any choice)
11. Labour fees for moving cupboards,tables and shelves in classroom/staffroom, cleaning students up after they poo/vomit:$20 per hour.
12. All the money you paid to replace faulty PE/music/art/ICT equipment on your own. Too lecheh to do AOR, ITQ, and then go through Gebiz and evaluation plus endless meetings with KP/AM/P just to get a pair of soccer gloves for your student.smile emoticon
13. Last but not least, fees for marking after 5pm each day, as no marking can be done before that due to meetings/CCAs/meeting parents/meeting vendors/meeting P: $50 per hour.
At the end of the day, is that season parking so difficult to afford? I don’t think so. But the message that the sacrifices of teachers are not appreciated by MOE will have a greater cost than the revenue that it can collect from the season parking.
Kudos to my ex-colleagues who are still believing in making a difference to the next generation.
From a (currently much happier) ex-teacher.
To wrap this up, I’ll say principal-turned-Labour-MP, Zainal Sapari, summed it up pretty neatly,
Image Credits: Straits Times.