Looks like the shortage of teachers is a Singapore myth. MOE has many highly qualified applicants and is in the position to choose the best.
Here's a letter by someone rejected by the MOE. Oh what a whiner! Doesn't he understand the high standards we have at MOE. Even an acclaimed playwright who has straight As for his 'O' & 'A' levels...winner of Prime Minister's book prizes, National Arts council's prestigious Young Artist Award, well loved by students and the principal does not qualify for the position of relief teacher these days.
Looks like MOE has extremely stringent criteria for selecting teachers even relief teachers.
July 2, 2007
NZ-trained teacher rejected due to his age?
I READ with interest the letter 'Is there a shortage of school teachers?' by Madam Jenny Sim Siew Hwa (ST, June 21). I moved to New Zealand in 2000 and trained as a secondary teacher there to teach physics, science and mathematics.
While in New Zealand, I taught physics and science in an all-boys school as well as a co-ed school. Recently, I decided to return to Singapore and applied for a teaching position with the Ministry of Education (MOE). An interview was arranged and I returned to Singapore during my term break last April. I was surprised the interview panel did not even realise I was teaching overseas and as such had an overseas address.
Later, I received a letter telling me I was unsuccessful in my application as 'the crop of applicants were of a very high standard'. Looking at my teaching qualifications, teaching experience and testimonials from principals and heads of department I worked with in New Zealand, I was disappointed.
In New Zealand, I would be snapped up as I teach a specialist subject - but not in Singapore. On the one hand, I hear there is a shortage of teachers but my experience is that MOE does not seem to realise that.
It makes me wonder if overseas teacher training qualifications are recognised.
Or is age a barrier? Incidentally, I am 50 years old. I have read about how Singapore wants to encourage the elderly to remain in the workforce and thought my work experience would be an advantage to my teaching as I can bring relevance into my lessons.
On its website, MOE encourages mid-stream career change. Could it make its criteria clear?
The teaching profession has been undervalued and MOE is not helping to improve its image. In general, the mindset of employers in Singapore has to change to realise that middle-aged employees bring in more skills than are taught in theory. As part of the workforce that has contributed to what Singapore is today, I am disappointed and may return to New Zealand where I am better appreciated.
Cheong Kam Seng
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