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Ministry of Education (MOE) stated that the resignation rate for new teachers within their first five years of service has seen a slight increase.

Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary responded to Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC), Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap (Aljunied GRC) who asked about teachers leaving the teaching force in recent years.

Dr Janil said in Parliament that the overall resignation rate for the entire teacher population is currently at around two to three per cent a year over the past decade.

However, Dr Janil said that teachers with five years of experience and below, has higher overall resignation rate at about three to four per cent a year.

“Typically, there would be an up-tick in the resignation rate to about 5 per cent for teachers when their bond ends,” he said, adding that workload is not commonly cited as a reason for teachers leaving the service.

According to Dr Janil the main reasons for resignations range from family considerations such as childcare, to a desire for a change of job.

He, however, stated that MOE recognises that as a profession, teaching is “demanding and requires significant commitment and deep skills”.

A figure disclosed by Ministry in 2000 showed the force numbered around 24,000 with resignation rate was 2 percent. While, currently, the force has grown to 33,000 teachers with the resignation above 2 percent.

MOE said that the size of teaching force remains stable.

About a third of teachers in Singapore have under five years of experience based on 2015 data.

According to Dr Janil, MOE consistently pays close attention to teachers, making sure that the teachers are fairly remunerated, provided with developmental opportunities to grow in their careers, and being taken care of in terms of their well-being.

He stated that teacher remuneration is regularly reviewed to ensure it keeps pace with the market. He said that the last two salary reviews were done in September 2012 and October 2015. He also said that eligible teachers had a monthly salary increase of eight per cent, and four to nine per cent respectively.

Dr Janil said that his Ministry provides teachers with many career and professional opportunities. This includes pathways to leadership positions in schools and the MOE headquarters, becoming teacher leaders, or taking up senior specialist roles.

He noted that the well-being of teachers remains important. He said, “MOE is mindful of the high expectations of teachers. To address this, we have put in place measures to support and guide schools in work allocation.”

“Schools also regularly review work areas that can be stopped if they are no longer relevant or meaningful, simplified to reduce duplication and optimise efforts, as well as share good practices to improve work management,” he added.

TOC recently wrote an article about why more and more teachers are turning to tuition centres as their choice of career.

Almost every teacher are complaining about poor work-life balance. They are usually at school at 7 am, however, they do not leave school earlier than 5 pm, some even stay until 8 pm as they have other responsibilities. After returning home, they still need to work late into the night at home, marking assignments and tests. To make it even worse, there are also the weekly CCA duties which take place in the afternoons and evenings after school, or even on weekends.

Most teachers say that they work around 60 to 70 hours on average in a week, including weekend, however, this number does not take into consideration staying overnight for camps or going overseas for school trips.

Other than the administrative and CCA duties, teachers also need to stay connected with parents. A teacher shared his story that teachers who has been in service long enough would have a story to tell about insufferable or unrealistic parents they need to deal with.

This means that even though the salary is considered to be decent, it may not be worth the long hours they spend and the mental burden that comes with the job. Other than push factors, the amount of money that a teacher can earn as a tuition teacher is also an attractive pull factor.

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