School parking (Source: Straits Times).

Much more unseen and unheard sacrifices that teachers have to give for their students

A comment by Tan Ben was shared by Desmond Phua which had allegedly been taken down by a mainstream media from its Facebook page. Phua wrote on his Facebook post, “That post shows very clearly on what teachers go through~ I am going to quote what Tan Ben wrote just now and has garner many many many likes…”

This comment apparently is in response to the announcement that teachers at all national schools and junior colleges will have to pay when they park their vehicles on the school premises starting from 1 August.

The comment by Ben is as follow:

“Coming from a husband of an ex-teacher…Since AG [Auditor General] deemed it fair for teachers to pay for their parking at their own expenses, I guess I can advise all my teacher friends to stop the following since it’s “fair wages policy”:

1. Children’s day gifts, class prizes, motivation prizes, class treats, encouragement cards, motivation posters to help the students.
2. Additional study resources, revision notes created out of their own free time in the nights, weekends and holidays.
3. Class charts, decorations, motivation posters, photos printed out of your own money to make the classroom a more positive learning environment.
4. Marking, lesson planning, research done at night, weekends and your own “protected time” during school holidays. After all, these should be done during your working hours in school right since AG wants to be black and white and you are not paid OT?
5. Answering parents’ messages, emails and phonecalls after your slated working hours at 5pm. Oh yes, don’t even use your own internet and mobile data to do so since MOE DID NOT PAY A SINGLE CENT OF YOUR UTILITY BILLS. Doesn’t matter if your student have any emergencies or life or death matters in the families. It’s fair wage policy remember? Must be fair to you.
6. Additional remedial/supplementary lessons/consultation time done after school to help students who are weaker/taking key exams etc.
7. Giving your students pocket money/buying them food and drinks if they have financial difficulties or going for excursions.

After all, it’s their own fault if they can’t afford to bring snacks for long excursions right?

On top of that, teachers should stop doing the following unless a fee is paid for these non-teaching duties and responsibilities:
1. Bringing students out for overseas trips/SYF/rehearsals/community events which often fall on nights and weekends, sacrificing your own family and free time.
2. Coming back on weekends to conduct workshops for parents to help them help their own child. Come on, from teaching the child to teaching the parent as well? And for free some more??? Private tuition centres are charging from $50 per hour to $100 per hour for the kind of workshops you conduct!
3. One-to-one meetings with parents to deal with their child’s issues. Some more sometimes get scoldings and shouted at for no good reasons. Even counsellors charge a hefty fee in private sector.
4. Planning and fighting for budget, writing proposals, getting quotations, and all the admin stuff of procurement.

After all, these are not done during teaching time right?

There are so much more unseen and unheard sacrifices that parents and students will never know, much less some people at HQ who only wants to implement policies and yet never take the ground feedback into account. While the amount is small, it is a signal from the top management that perhaps, the teachers should learn to be more “fair” to themselves and I fear that the ones who will really lose out will be the next generation. In any case, I’m glad that my wife is no longer in the system and doing a less stressful and happier job as a tutor. Pay is not too bad as well.”

Editor’s note – To be fair to the Auditor General’s Office, it reported in the 2015 annual report of financial lapses in public-sector bodies, that three education institutions did not impose charges or imposed below market rate charges for use of their car pars.

It noted that such practices are tantamount to providing hidden subsidises for vehicle parking and not in line with the requirement laid down in the Government Instruction Manuals. The three institutions named are; Institute of Technical Education, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.

Following the report, all five polytechnics in the country started charging staff for parking on their premises from October 2017. The monthly fees for season parking are at S$80 for surface carparks and S$110 for sheltered spaces.

It is unknown why the Ministry of Education decided to include the review of parking fees for public schools and Junior Colleges since AGO did not highlight the schools in its report.