Teacher-hiring policies make a difference in quality education

It is undeniable that Mr Heng Swee Keat and his team at the Ministry of Education have done a great job in sustaining the world-class education system we have in the country ("Singapore 'has built a first-rate education system'"; last Saturday).

However, quality education goes beyond curriculum policies, and includes employment policies as well.

A main difference between independent schools and government schools is the teacher-employment scheme.

To my knowledge, independent schools employ their own teachers, mostly on contract, with a handful seconded from MOE.

Teachers in independent schools are also paid more than teachers in government schools.

Does the MOE risk an exodus of talent if top teachers are poached by independent schools and are no longer formally employed by the ministry?

When I was in school, I was very fortunate to be taught by teachers who did not go through the National Institute of Education training. They got to become teachers because my school - an independent school - had the liberty of employing its own teachers.

These teachers were motivated and dedicated. Perhaps the fact that they were on contract also pushed them to continue to perform well.

MOE should review its hiring policies in its efforts to narrow the disparity between the schools.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Teacher-hiring policies make a difference in quality education'. Print Edition | Subscribe