The Straits Times published an article some days back about the increase in the number of Physical Education (PE), Arts and Music teachers in Singapore in the past 5 years.
But that said, another report last year showed that about 5,000 teachers left the force in the past 5 years.
While it’s the attrition rate is just around 3% according to the Education Ministry, still, the question is why is it that on average, 1,000 teachers in Singapore leave the force?
Anecdotally, you would hear of teachers often complaining that they do more administrative work than teaching. Often, they say they spend more time planning the curriculum and organising school events then doing what they should be doing: teach.
Every job definitely has a certain level of stress. I’m sure teaching does as well. A friend of mine who is still teaching, says that the main bulk of the stress comes from paper work, which in his own words is “never-ending”.
According to him, teachers are required to mark and track students’ attendance, bring stacks and even piles of homework back home to mark. He even quipped that it’s almost like a reversal of roles, when teachers have homework to do in the form of marking of assignments.
Then there are over-demanding parents to deal with occasionally. Some parents ask for teachers’ contact numbers and have tried to reach them at unreasonable hours in order to ask about their child’s progress.
All these factors are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg. But the real issue here is that when teachers leave the force, it is truly a waste of teaching talent. After all, before teachers can enter the force, they spend a number of years at the National Institute of Education training to be educators.
To tackle this, the Education Ministry said in a Straits Times report last year, that “up to 30,000 teachers will get 4% to 9% increases in their monthly wages…”.
I think that’s not getting to the root of the problem to solve it, and a bit insulting if you ask me. It’s almost as if you’re dangling a carrot to incentivise teachers to carry on in the force, but not resolving the issue of increasing paperwork and dealing with demanding parents.
What is needed here is proper support for teachers so that they can concentrate better at what they are trained to do: teach.
In recent years though, much has been done to improve the situation. Allied educators are employed to help develop and nurture students.
But much more can be done to ensure that teachers in Singapore can truly help to mould the future of our nation.