Dear Editors,

This email is with regard to the news that MOE wishes to start charging teachers for parking. While the public remains divided about this issue, and many are quick to point out that teachers had a pay rise last year, none of the forums point out the following realities for teachers in MOE schools:

1) When there are a recession about 6 to 7 years ago, salary increments were frozen for MOE’s teachers. Teachers did not get any wage increments that year.

2) In many schools, it is not uncommon for teachers to often fork out their own cash several times a year to pay for things for their students.

These can range from meals to treat their form class and subject classes several times a year (e.g. Children’s Day, Youth Day, Graduation Farewell Presents, end of CCA season, school year farewell makan session for kids to celebrate them graduating up to the next level and a new form class, yearend CCA bonding Camps etc) to even helping students who are on financially needy schemes pay for stationary, enrichment books etc. Some teachers even make it a point to sometimes bring extra servings of lunch or breakfast for students whom they know are at risk and somehow don’t know how to help themselves. They’ll eat with the student during break and use that opportunity to offer a listening ear, a voice of stability and a hot meal.

Teachers are generally not a calculating lot of people and the paperwork is quite daunting when making claims so they seldom make these claims or these purchases can’t be claimed (how do you claim a meal treat to encourage your graduating students before an exam especially if you have easily 3 to 4 classes of graduating students, and yet giving these meal treats and buying little graduation souvenirs for every single one of your graduating students is something that kids really, really appreciate and treasure)?

Teachers also often end up driving to students’ homes to give them lifts e.g. if they are recalcitrant and don’t come to school so teachers painstakingly drive to their homes to fetch them but these teachers don’t make transport claims. Similarly, when kids are sick in school, during camp etc etc, it’s not uncommon for teachers to fetch the students home or fetch them to the doctor and then fetch them home and all of these transport costs are not claimed. Whoever has the car and happens to not be teaching in class at that point in time, just chips in and helps out.

Similarly, when teachers rush from school to HQ or to other schools to attend briefings in the afternoon, very few of them claim transport costs or to even claim for parking at HQ (which is very costly).

In schools e.g. teachers also spend their own money to buy stationary (marking pens, files, notebooks etc) for their own use as teaching resources as schools don’t provide these. Schools will provide photocopying paper and whiteboard markers but if you’re a teacher organizing your notes etc for teaching, you pay for your own stationary.

3) It’s also not uncommon for senior management in schools like department heads, subject heads, level heads, school leaders etc to contribute money out of their own pockets to buy gifts to appreciate their various departmental teams and staff e.g. treating them to dinner, contributing financially to the annual staff dinner, buying staff gifts during teachers’ day, various celebratory days in the year etc etc.

Unlike in the private sector, there are no expense accounts for these things.

A talk to ordinary teachers from heartland schools will reveal a lot about the extent to which teachers pay many things out of their own pockets to help their students and their fellow teachers.

All of these add up to hundreds of dollars, sometimes much more, a year, but teachers do all this to help and encourage their students and their fellow teachers so does the decision to charge teachers for parking in schools make any sense? We ask for a society with empathy so how do we support, encourage people who demonstrate much empathy for others in their daily work?

Concerned Member of the Public
A.S.S. Contributor

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