Singapore has the youngest teaching force among the countries surveyed, with an average age of 36 – seven years below the global average is 43, according to TALIS.

“We have a relatively younger teaching force due to the significant increase in the number of teachers in recent years. The younger teachers complement the depth and expertise of more experienced teachers who continue to be valued, and who provide professional support and mentoring for the Beginning Teachers,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

However, the Ministry of Education compensates by placing a strong emphasis on training – for example, 83 per cent take a practicum in subjects they teach, compared to the 67 per cent worldwide. Almost all – 98 per cent – are trained in actual classroom scenarios before becoming full-fledged teachers, 9 percentage points more than the global average.

In addition, teachers are “well-supported in professional development, so that they continue upgrading their skills and deepening their competencies as teachers”, the ministry said.

TALIS showed that 98 per cent of teachers participate in professional development activities, the highest of all nations surveyed, with a global average of 88 per cent. MOE noted that nine in 10 such activities are conducted at no expense to the teachers.

In addition, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 found that teachers in Singapore work an average of 48 hours a week – 10 hours longer than the global average.

Of their time at work, 17 hours a week are spent teaching, about two hours less than teachers elsewhere, according to the 3,109 lower secondary school teachers and 144 principals from 159 schools in Singapore who responded to the survey, the findings of which were announced on Wednesday (June 25).

However, they spend eight hours a week on planning their lessons, nine hours marking, and five hours on administrative duties – relatively higher than the global averages seven, five and three hours, respectively.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said it has made efforts over the years to ease teachers’ administrative duties and support them in various functions so that they can focus more on teaching and learning.

“We will continue to support our teachers through providing them the kind of training, the kind of professional development that will equip them to do their work better. We hope to be able to support them through providing them more support in terms of allied educators, in terms of providing them work life balance through proper use of their teaching hours,” said MOE Deputy-Director of Education Wong Siew Hoong.

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