Oct 04, 2013

    Teachers respected, 'but pay them less'

    THERE is strong respect and support for the teaching profession in Singapore. But, on average, people here believe teachers should be paid less than what they earn.

    This was one of the findings from a global survey whose results were released yesterday.

    Some 1,000 people were polled in each of the 21 countries studied between June and July this year.

    Called the Varkey GEMS Foundation 2013 Global Teachers Status Index, the survey is the first comparative study of its kind to examine the status of teachers and people's attitudes towards them.

    In measuring people's respect for teachers, Singapore was ranked No. 7, with an index value of 46.3 out of 100. It surpassed other countries like Finland, Britain and the United States. China took the top spot with a score of 100.

    The higher the score, the more respect there is for teachers.

    Singapore was ranked third in its people's confidence and trust of the national education system and quality, coming behind Finland and Switzerland.

    But, on average, people here thought the fair wage for a teacher should be almost 14 per cent below their actual current wages. The survey said teachers here on average earn US$45,755 (S$57,000) annually.

    Teachers and parents told My Paper that paying teachers less could result in more of them quitting, compromising the quality of education here.

    A secondary-school teacher in her 20s, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lim, said: "How else do you get the greatest minds in Singapore to nurture the young? Many people are attracted to higher-paying jobs in the private sector."

    A junior-college teacher, 27, who wanted to be called Mr Lim, said there are greater demands on teachers today, as they are tasked to "do a lot more things, apart from teaching". These include administrative work, co-curricular activities, and the "day-to-day drama of managing a classroom", he said.

    Ms Serene Lim, 30, who works in a technology firm, said teachers' wages now are acceptable, taking into account the immense pressure they face.

    Ms Lim, who has a daughter in Primary 1, said: "It's not easy to deal with today's over-protective parents. Teachers also have to worry about the scrutiny of the media and netizens."

    Financial adviser Chan Meng Meng, 47, who has a daughter in Primary 4, said: "Not everyone can do what teachers do, and they deserve to be fairly remunerated."

    Still, "having the passion to teach should be of utmost importance" where the profession is concerned, she said.