Singapore Teachers are Overworked, Overstressed

Teachers here say the findings of an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development survey do not reflect their typical work day, and that they work at least 50 hours a week – beyond the international average of 38 hours (” ’48 hours? It’s more than that’ “; last Friday).

As a new teacher in a primary school, my son worked an average of 60 hours a week during his first six months. One of the reasons was that his co-curricular activity (CCA) duties took place on certain Saturdays and Sundays.

On most nights, he spends time texting his students’ parents to update them on their children’s progress. One of his colleagues was even asked by her student’s mother to conduct regular maths tuition for her husband and her, so they could “coach their child at home effectively”.

The authorities and schools ought to look into these areas:

Reduce the teacher:student ratio here (currently 1:36) to the global average of 1:24;
Have a co-teacher to teach alongside the lead teacher, as practised in some local pre-schools and some overseas schools;
Review the CCA hours, especially on weekends;
Recruit more administrative staff to relieve teachers’ workload; and
Include a clause in the Parents’ Handbook telling parents to refrain from contacting teachers after certain hours, which requires a mindset change among parents here.
I trust that the Ministry of Education will be able to find ways to reduce teachers’ working hours. Brilliant and passionate teachers will then be able to spend more time developing good syllabuses and nurturing their students academically while building their characters.

Catherine Soh (Ms)

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