SINGAPORE – Work is being done to reduce teachers’ workloads, but parents also play a key role in educators’ well-being, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
By respecting teachers’ personal time and minimising communication with them outside work hours, parents and the public can set appropriate expectations about the extent of their responsibilities, said Mr Chan.
He was responding on Monday to questions from MPs on the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) additional efforts to retain teachers in the profession and improve their working conditions.
The questions come after MOE said in August that around 35,000 teachers would get a pay hike of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent from Oct 1, in an effort to attract and retain good educators.
MOE has, over the years, streamlined administrative processes such as centralising services for common purchases, and made attendance-taking electronic, said Mr Chan.
“This allows teachers to focus their time on student-centric work, including co-curricular activities and counselling.”
Schools have also implemented more flexible work arrangements for teachers where feasible, such as holding virtual or hybrid afternoon meetings, while staff well-being committees have also been provided with more welfare funds, he added.
But parents also make a big difference to the well-being of teachers, said Mr Chan, who paid tribute to parent support groups and alumni groups who have helped alleviate teachers’ workloads and model positive parent-teacher relationships.
On the flipside, there are also parents who do not abide by the rules MOE has set out for interactions with teachers, said Mr Chan.
“Some of these negative examples would be going after the teachers for the slightest of issues, which require the teachers to spend an inordinate amount of time to try to answer those questions,” he said.
Responding to an additional question by Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) on whether MOE would consider drawing clear boundaries around what parents can or cannot do, Mr Chan said the ministry has a code of conduct that it communicates to the parents and the public.
These guidelines, found on the MOE website, include statements such as: “Check the teachers’ preferred mode of communication – they are not required to share their mobile numbers.” and “Understand that teachers may not be able to respond to your queries immediately.”.
He urged parents to work with schools to abide by the code.
Mr Chan said: “In the larger scheme of things, sometimes it’s useful for us to take a step back and ask ourselves what is the kind of environment we want in the schools in order for us to bring up our children who are independent, resilient and creative.
“Sometimes, if we overdo things by removing all uncertainties and difficulties, and untidiness from the child’s life, it may not be the best way for us to bring up our children.”