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A Touching Facebook Post And The True Cost Of Being A Teacher In Singapore (Salary, teaching hours and workload)

Teachers in primary, secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, will have to start paying for their parking, starting August.

If you are not aware, here’s the parking rates that will be implemented.

Cost of parking for teachers starting August 2018

The cost of parking for teachers are generally differentiated into outdoor season parking and sheltered carparks parking. From there, months during school term and school holidays have their respective rates.

The cost of outdoor season parking is as per below:

Cost of Outdoor Season Parking
CarSchool TermS$75/month
School Holidays
(June, November, December)
$15/ month
MotorcyclesSchool TermS$13/month
School Holidays
(June, November, December)
S$2/month

Whereas the cost of sheltered carparks will be slightly higher, at:

Cost of sheltered carparks Season Parking
CarSchool TermS$$100/month
School Holidays
(June, November, December)
$20/ month
MotorcyclesSchool TermS$14/month
School Holidays
(June, November, December)
S$3/month

The same charges will be applied to all schools and Junior colleges(JC). This includes independent schools.

With this, the annual cost that will be incurred on teacher can be quite significant:

  • A teacher who drives a car parking at uncovered space in school will incur a cost of S$720.
  • A teacher who drives a car parking at sheltered space in school will incur a cost of S$960.
  • A teacher who rides a motorcycle parking at uncovered space in school will incur a cost of S$123.
  • A teacher who rides a motorcycle parking at sheltered space in school will incur a cost of S$135.

source: Straits Times

This topic set off quite a discussion, where Singaporeans question the need for such measure, especially when being a teacher in Singapore did not strike one as an easy job.

“Charging teachers for parking their cars when most of the time they worked longer hours for students without asking anything back?”


That was exactly what we thought, but it wasn’t until we chanced upon a heartfelt Facebook post of Mindy, that we see the need to write about it.

The story

“I’m exhausted,” he explains apologetically, as I try to get him to get up from the yoga mat on our living room floor and move into the bedroom instead. He’s been nodding off in front of Netflix since 9.15pm, struggling to keep awake so we can spend time together.

“The Drama CCA kids were having a farewell for their Sec 4s today and I had to stay back for their send-off. They didn’t manage to finish all the sixteen pizzas I bought.” I ask him how much pizza was left and he says, “About one whole pizza?” I point out that next time he probably could buy one less, and he shrugs and says, “Well, it was 1-for-1.”

Surely a farewell party couldn’t have been THAT tiring. “Before that, I had a whole day of back-to-back lessons and I was running here and there to settle all the prep for the Drama kids too.”

On a regular weekday, Brennan can clock 20,000 steps on his step tracker, just from running around school and conducting lessons. On a regular weekend, he clocks mileage in red ink, checking and marking assignment after assignment.

I ask if someone’s going to reimburse him for the sixteen pizzas that he paid for out of his own pocket. “Nah,” he says. “Because apparently, teachers have so many hidden benefits, right? That’s why even parking also must pay.” He smiles impishly.

It’s 9.45pm on a Friday night and my husband is asleep, not because he doesn’t want to keep me company, but because he’s completely out of energy.

They say there are hidden benefits that come with being a teacher, but really, all I see are costs.

– Mindy’s Facebook post

 

The above was no stranger to most Singaporeans because we can strongly relate it to the lives of teachers who have taught us in the past.

We can’t help but nod in agreement while reading through the post, thinking “Oh yes, that was what my teacher Mr. Chang did when I was in Primary School”, and “You mean those snacks that Miss Hazel got for us, are from her own pocket?”

With that in mind, we dived deeper into this topic.


Is it really that tough to be a teacher in Singapore?

Are teachers in Singapore being under-recognized for their contributions to the Singapore society? We break down some numbers to find out.

Salary of teachers in Singapore

To further find out the impact of this extra charges, we take a look at the salary of teachers in Singapore.

 Starting Salary After 5-10 YearsAfter 10-20 Years
Primary SchoolS$43,000S$62,000S$73,000
Secondary SchoolS$46,000S$62,000S$75,000
Junior CollegeS$50,000S$65,000S$73,000

source: payscale.com

Based on MOE’s website, the starting salary of teachers depend on the programme they go through:

  • For Diploma in Education (DipEd), the starting salary ranges from S$1,600 to S$2,100 per month.
    Which adds up to about S$19,200 to S$25,200 per annum.
  • For Postgraduate Diploma in Education Programmes (PGDE), the starting salary ranges from S$3,100 to S$3,500 per month.
    Which adds up to about S$37,200 to S$42,000 per annum.
  • Of course, there are perks such as receiving of monthly salary while undergoing NIE training to attract new educators into the industry.

source: moe.gov.sg

Editor’s Note: This means that the newly incurred parking cost can take up an addition 1%-5% increment in expense for new teachers driving cars to work.

Comparing with: Best and worst countries to be a teacher in terms of salary

The latest data released by OECD regarding the salary of teachers across some of the OECD countries indicates that the OECD average teachers’ annual salary is at 46,379USD, an equivalent of about S$60,892.

Below, we take a look at how Singapore teacher’s median salary lineup against some of these countries.

Primary school teachers’ salary

According to OECD’s data and Business Insider’s compilation, below are the 10 best and 10 worst paid countries for teachers:

10 best and 10 worst paid countries for teachers

source: Business Insider

  • For better comparison, given that the information above is in USD, the average starting wage for Singapore’s teachers is at US$32,719 for primary school.
  • After 5-10 years, the salary will be at US$47,176
  • For more than 10 years, the salary will be at US$55,546

This means that teachers in Singapore are definitely better paid than the 10 worst paid countries in the OECD countries. Yet, when it comes to in comparison in the top 10 paying countries in the OECD, it is still lacking.

Secondary school teachers’ salary

For a more accurate comparison, we compare the salary of secondary school teachers too.

source: Business Insider

  • For better comparison, given that the information above is in USD, the average starting wage for Singapore’s teachers is at US$35,000 for secondary school.
  • After 5-10 years, the salary will be at US$47,176
  • For more than 10 years, the salary will be at US$57,068.

Again, teachers in Singapore are better paid than the 10 worst paid countries in the OECD countries, but in comparison to the top 10 paying countries in the OECD, it is still lacking.

The workload of a teacher in Singapore

Now, away from the money, we take a look at the kind of workload a teacher in Singapore faces.

The ratio of students to teaching stuff: Singapore vs the world

The student to teaching staff ratio is calculated using the number of students divided by the number of teachers.

Assuming, more students means more workload for teachers, we compare the workload with the rest of the countries based on this ratio.

The ratio of students to teachers for primary school:

 Ratio of students to teachers
Luxembourg10
Austria11
Germany13
Singapore 15.5
(as of the year 2016)
Ireland16
Korea17
Netherlands17
Japan18
Canada19

source: Singapore’s statistics from MOE, the rest of the countries from OECD

The ratio of students to teachers for secondary school:

 Ratio of students to teachers
Luxembourg11
Singapore 11.9
(as of the year 2016)
Austria13
Germany15
Ireland18
Korea25
Netherlands22
Japan20
Canada20

From the above two sets of data, when it comes to the ratio of students and teachers, Singapore seems to be doing a good job in keeping classes small.

Editor’s note: Personally, the above ratio might be vague as there might be a lot of other factors affecting it such as students having to take up numerous subjects, hence having more teachers to divide the numbers by. In my impression, the number of students per classroom is quite big. Maybe times have changed.

Working hours per week: Singapore vs the world

Teachers do not really have contractually fixed working hours, and their working hours can easily stretch up to 12 hours a day at least.

Here are some of the activities that extend a teacher’s working hours:

  • In Singapore, teachers have to be in-charge of a Co-Curricular Activity. This usually takes place after school hours.
  • With PSLE, N Levels, O Levels and A Levels, remedial lessons are usually conducted after school hours to help students with their studies.
  • All these on top of their usual teaching hours, marking of papers and many times, answering the parents’ questions about their children’s performance in school.

Assuming, we take the Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis) to be true:

  • Singapore teachers spend about 48 hours a week in school (most teachers will disagree, it is more)

Comparing this with some of the countries where teachers earn higher:

hours teachers work per year

source: OECD

  • The above are numbers of teaching hours per year.

Assuming we take the Talis’s number as it is, despite many arguments for it to be higher.

In Singapore, where education is of utmost importance, a Singapore teacher would have clocked 1,000 hours in 5 – 6 months.

Editor’s Note: To all the teachers in Singapore, contributing your time, passion and hard work to educate the next generation,

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