Teachers are at the front line of education and play a major part in shaping the values, knowledge and skills of our children ("Not too late to say 'thank you' to a caring teacher"; Oct 26).
They are pillars of the nation-building process because they help to mould the next generation of Singaporeans in becoming responsible and productive members of society.
However, in the age of the "new normal" (or abnormal), a term that has been commonly used to describe a more discontented and demanding populace, teachers are increasingly being put in the spotlight and they have to undergo undue performance pressures.
Besides addressing multifaceted challenges, they have to also respond to higher expectations from members of the public, including some demanding parents.
The increase in contact with parents, grassroots organisations and superiors has also added to their stress level.
Consultancy McKinsey's report on education has found that how teachers teach is the most important driver of quality in the education system. Their positive impact on students can last a lifetime.
Therefore, how we manage our teachers and look after their welfare will contribute to the well-being of society, and the success of our economy and nation.
We need to, therefore, give stronger recognition to teachers, that we value them as members of a significant, trusted and respected profession, and that they are vital members of the community and society.
To address undue stress on teachers, we need to establish a comprehensive system to look after their health, professional development and other aspects of their well-being.
The issues we need to address are:
How do we ensure that the scope and pace of educational reform can be implemented in such a way that teachers can adapt and adjust to the reform effectively?
How can we develop teachers' capacity, ability and agility to handle stress and cope with changes?
How can we alleviate teachers' administrative duties so that they can better focus on their students?
How can we ring-fence teachers from overly demanding parents and unreasonable expectations?
We can do more to enhance teachers' image, professional dignity and overall well-being.
Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)