Lionel Lee posted this comment in my previous posting:
There is a big issue in the yahoo post. There is a big issue of 3000 commentaries on the follwing: http://sg.yfittopostblog.com/2010/05/16/are-singapore-teachers-overworked/comment-page-57/#comments. Please do a write up on this issue as it is a hot topic among the netizens since the last 2 weeks but I have yet to see your perspective on it.
Keep up the good work.
I went through the original letter by Ms Aishah Quek and the Yahoo article:
1. Primary school teachers sometimes work from 7am to 8pm due to guard duties in the morning and remedial lessons after school hours.
2. While the actual school sessions are short, they have to put in extra hours for marking assignments, remedial lessons and a whole host of administrative tasks.
As a result of the long hours, many feel drained and strained.
For the friends I have who entered teaching in Primary & Secondary school most don't last too long. I have 3 friends teaching in the poly and they feedback that "life is not bad"...quite good in terms of workload and balance. Many see it as a transition job because the progress is limited and a few complain of stress. A few years ago, I thought the MoE wanted to hire TA (teacher assistants)[Link] to relieve the teacher's burden. So I think the problem is specific to primary, secondary and may be JC teachers. Overworking teachers may be a bigger problem than overworking an IT guy or a finance guy. The IT feller can just move on to another company doing a similar job if he doesn't like it so can the finance feller. But teachers are under the employment of MoE so they either stick to teaching or leave teaching. The 2nd problem is teaching has limited progress - that is why you lose people when you overwork them. The financial incentives dangled for other jobs and potential career advancements make people accept some level of overwork. My lawyer friend has slept in his office for the past 1-2 weeks because of a big case but if he makes to partner in a few years he will be set for life so he doesn't mind - it was understood that he will be overpaid and overworked when he took up the job.
I always thought that teaching should be a stable, interesting job for people who love it..and are not driven primarily by financial incentives. If it is true that they are overworked, something has to be done. It is a real loss if we train teachers only to overwork them and lose them to other sectors. Teachers should concentrate on teaching and a large part of it is interacting with students for the 6 hours or so. The guard duties, remedial lessons and administrative loads can be eased by hiring of assistants - 1 for every 2-3 teachers? - and that will ultimately lead to better quality of primary and secondary school education.
The issue has set off heated debates on the Internet with some people finding it hard to believe teachers are overworked because of the school sessions and holidays. I think it is good that the issue has surfaced so that these perceptions can be corrected. One figure to look at is the turnover rate of teachers compared with those who are hired into the civil service. The turnover rate shouldn't be higher because there are many similarities between the two - they are suppose to be stable careers with a focus on important duties rather than monetary rewards...the govt went as far as giving teachers full medical benefits and pension schemes in the past so they can focus on teaching..now all that is gone and the workload has increased.