Boost support for teachers to strengthen profession

Since the report on Oct 3 ("5,000 teachers leave service over five years), there has been rich discussion in the media pertaining to the teaching profession and teachers.

Teaching is a demanding and complex profession, and it has become even more so in the past decade.

The universal adoption of mobile devices and use of social media have fuelled expectations from parents and students for teachers to be able to respond to queries 24 hours a day.

In response to Singapore's ongoing economic transformation, teachers have to adapt to new teaching tools and a refreshed curriculum.

The quest to instil a SkillsFuture mindset in the population begins in schools.

The Singapore Teachers' Union (STU) works closely with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and shares with it teachers' feedback received from school delegates when deliberating on policies impacting teachers and their workload.

STU also provides advice and assistance to teachers at the workplace.

The uniqueness of the teaching profession lies in the placing of students at the heart of what we do and making sacrifices in nurturing them.

Teachers cannot be said to be merely providing a service in the commercial sense. Teachers impart values, cultivate discipline and mould the character of generations of children.

Nonetheless, a teacher's work cannot be the sole determinant of a child's development. Parents need to work in partnership with teachers in the education of their children.

Parents play a crucial role in creating a healthy learning environment and the resources that a child requires to flourish and grow.

It is to the child's detriment if parents hold the view that teachers have the sole purview of such matters and cease their regular involvement at the other end.

Teachers, like the rest of us, are only human. That they play an often understated and unappreciated role cannot be an excuse to deprive them of the rest and respect that they deserve.

If we value our children, we must value the people who dedicate themselves to nurturing them.

Singaporeans can be proud of our world-class education system because our teachers are its backbone.

As a society, we must endeavour to strengthen the teaching profession by boosting our support of and for teachers.

In this respect, STU stands ready to partner MOE in our continual discussions on improving the working conditions of teachers and to explore avenues to retain experienced teachers. Losing even one good teacher is one too many.

Mike Thiruman
Singapore Teachers' Union

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Boost support for teachers to strengthen profession'. Print Edition | Subscribe