Why are thousands of school teachers quitting?

The Straits Times ran a report which cited that thousands of teachers have left the teaching service in recent years (ST - 3 October 2016 :"5,000 teachers leave service over five years"); when the article link was posted on its Facebook Page, the local online community erupted into a mixed frenzy of anger, sympathy and confusion as folks took sides in a mass blame game of trying to hold someone accountable for this exodus of mainstream school educators. Is the Ministry of Education (MOE) not doing enough to retain them, or is it because of an increasing number of rowdy students and haughty overprotective parents making lives exceptionally miserable for the teachers themselves? What about teachers being over-burdened by miscellaneous undertakings as opposed to actually discharging their teaching duties? Did office politics contribute to the decisions of some who called it quits? All these aside, perhaps it is just another classic instance of "survival of the fittest"? We sussed out the chatter and provided a roundup of comments which made decent sense below :

By Merlion Love:

"I have seen many dedicated and passionate teachers (yes they really loved helping children) leave the profession. Why did they choose to do so? Because they cannot continue to go on against their conscience. It's a job that demands a high degree of morality, but how many are teaching merely for the sake of a paycheck and promotions instead of giving their best for the students? They leave, because they can. They are confident of their abilities; besides, there are no lack of students to teach on the outside. Children can tell almost immediately if an educator is good or rotten. Those who didn't leave, it could possibly be due to the fact they are not good enough and deep down inside they know they may not survive outside the school system. In the end, the overall quality of school teachers is compromised, parents seek external sources of assistance and tuition centres flourish."

By Zainab M. Zain :

"I joined teaching 16 years ago naively believing that if I loved doing something, it would be time and effort well spent. But no...sadly I discovered that within the management, there were people hatching evil plans. They set spies on new teachers. And not forgetting the fact that they had to fullfil a quota where a certain number of teachers must be given D or E gradings. Who then grades the Principals and Vice-Principals? No one, so they happily gave themselves A grades.

Many teachers complained to MOE about such abuse of power, but as usual it fell on deaf ears because their cronies covered up for them up at headquarters. Another thing: some schools practise what they called "contribution money". They would asked blatantly, "So, if we accept your transfer to our school, how do you wish to contribute to the school?" This senior teacher received a warning letter from MOE when that particular parent realized he was being harrassed for money in order secure his child's transfer to that school. Mind you, its not a small amount that she asked for...

Oh well, dirty tricks up these teachers' sleeves just to get performance bonus and promotion..."

By Namdrol Jangsem:

"Tell me whether you will quit if the student kicked and threw the bag at you and here are the possible outcomes: (1) Parent said you have no right to cane the student. Confiscating the child's electronic device for 1 week is sufficient punishment (2) VP insisted on the teacher seeking help with anger management.

Or when the students declare, "You can't do anything to me", "@!!=##!×" at the teachers etc. Go a step further and think about this.. it may actually happen. What if a student threw his/her bag and it hit a pregnant teacher, as a result she suffers from medical complications?"

By Ng Mui Ting:

"As an ex Allied Educator (AED), I agree that AEDs are employed to provide more support for the weaker students/students with special and/or counseling needs, but they do not really offload the massive amount of administrative load that the teachers have. Teachers are usually down for CCA duty at least once a week. On the rest of the 3/4 weekdays, I've seen my ex-colleagues spending hours on non-teaching related work that they have to do their marking at home. Throw in a call/meeting with a troublesome parent (that can go on for hours), and your precious afternoon is gone just like that. It just takes that one parent to ruin your whole year (true story). I haven't even started talking about dealing with disciplinary cases, department meetings, trainings/workshops, teacher research, designing exam papers, excursions, planning/going for special events (just to name a few). And have you noticed I haven't even talked about the teachers' core business of teaching and planning of lessons?!

I really feel for my teacher friends. I've seen some having a few bites of their lunch at their cubicle before they rush off to another lesson/meeting (happened to me a few times too). You really cannot imagine their crazy workload unless you've witnessed it first hand.

You want fewer teachers to leave the service? There's a way: simply reduce their administrative work. Get more administrators to manage non-teaching related work (such as CCAs). I'm sure many teachers would rather focus on planning for their students' learning. That's why they're called teachers."

By Ben Lim:

"Every teacher I know still in the service either knows someone who has gone batshit crazy, as in literally ending up in a mental hospital, or is undergoing counselling /seeking psychiatric help. I don't know any other profession facing this, and is still continually being accused of "not having enough passion". It's high time people stop assessing the ability of teachers based on commercials and Hollywood films. Or worse, their own childish memories."

By Chrono D. Snow :

"Teachers complain that they have to work from 7am - 7pm but we must remember they are highly paid educators, earning more than 3k as a fresh university graduate. With their bonuses and yearly increments, they could expect to be in top percentiles of the public sectors with good track records. I worked like 12hrs a day, of which 4 hrs are OT and my salary will never be as high as them. PMETs sectors lots of them are working long hours, making sure our economy are running well smoothly. But we don't hear them grumbling cause its life. If you don't like it, then quit. Anyway, Teachers in Singapore should feel fortunate with the benefits and salary that come with the remuneration package."

By Veronica Lai:

"Teaching is an emotionally draining and physically challenging job. An effective teacher not only has to teach, she also has to wear multiple hats. She has to discipline, counsel, be an administrator, event manager, funds raising coordinator,...... Thus, teachers are normally drained high and dry in the first 5 years after NIE. So it's not surprising for the 3% attrition rate.

Teaching is an emotionally draining and physically challenging job. An effective teacher not only has to teach, she also has to wear multiple hats. She has to discipline, counsel, be an administrator, event manager, funds raising coordinator,...... Thus, teachers are normally drained high and dry in the first 5 years after NIE. So it's not surprising for the 3% attrition rate.

It's always good to have fresh and young faces joining schools. It breathes new life into the teaching profession."

Carefully harvested by the Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 4 October 2016


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