Deborah Chai, Former Secondary School Teacher / photo: video capture

Education in Singapore is ranked to be one of the best in the world. Students from Singapore take first places in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), scoring the highest points in the Maths and Science.

Apart from ensuring that students in Singapore continue to perform well academically, what other challenges do teachers face in Singapore and going further on that point, is there any reasons why some teachers leaving the seemingly well-paid and well-respected job?

CNA Insider documented an interview with teachers in Ngee Ann Secondary School as part of its Talking Point 2016 program – ep. 18.

Mrs Deborah Chai, who has served fifteen years as a school teacher said, “School is really a circus, and teachers are the consummate juggler.”

She added, “We have to please so many different people; it’s not even a 7-4 job. Stay up till 2 AM, work on the weekends and things like that.”

In relation to the large amount of the time needed, Ben Khor, the Art Subject Head of the school, said that he needs a total 48 hours prep time for upper secondary classes.

What made Deborah Chai stop teaching?

She answered this question with, “Frustratingly inane leadership. Seeming purposelessness in certain activities and duties and things like that.”

“I see that teachers struggle with delivering a good lesson. They’re spread so thin they don’t have the time to delve deep into their subject area and spend time with the kids that really need their help.”

What’s one thing she would like to change?

‘“I like a smaller class, forty is really crazy, you can not give quality teaching to 40 kids.”

What had kept her going?

“I’ve enjoyed my interactions with students. The dynamics in the classroom is something you can’t buy anywhere. It’s the relationships that you build over the years.”

“That’s really what makes it worthwhile.”

Teaching in Singapore is not a simple job, it takes a lot out of a teacher’s life and often you have to face challenge from different directions, as outlined by the comments from people seeing the CNA Insider’s video quoted below (the link of the video is here and here) .

A commenter on CNA noted that teachers have a bad time nowadays because they are not feared, “The very reason ….the current system of education in which the teachers & school principals are no longer being feared and respected by many parents of the student.”

Another said, “It’s harder for teachers these days. How do you deal with over-reactive parents who freaks out when you merely made their children stand for the whole lesson?”



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