Parking fees for teachers send wrong message

The report on Jan 8 ("MOE reviewing free school parking") has sparked intense arguments among my teacher friends ("Debate over free school parking"; Jan 9).

As I listened to them, I could not help but feel that in our pursuit of material excellence, we have allowed emotions and economic considerations to cloud our views.

My teacher friend, a hockey master, was fanatical in coaching his students to master the game.

He would arrive in school in his car at 6.30am and coach students until 7.30am when the flag-raising ceremony began.

School ended at 1.30pm and he would have a short rest.

Then, from 4pm to 6.30pm, he would subject his students to rigorous hockey training.

Small wonder that his school won the championship 10 years in a row.

If hourly parking fees had been imposed upon him, this might have dampened his drive as a coach.

On Saturdays, another friend, a chief executive at a multinational corporation, usually parks his car in the school where he is a volunteer Boys' Brigade officer.

He coaches students in playing the fife, dismantling and reassembling bicycles and even archery.

His contribution to the boys easily surpasses that of the teacher in charge of the Boys' Brigade.

If he were asked to pay for parking, it would not be a big problem. But the message sent is that his social contribution is minimal.

A normal school carpark can accommodate 30 to 50 cars and, on weekdays, they are usually half full.

During the school holidays, these carparks are practically empty.

If we value the efforts of our dedicated teachers in nurturing our children, then, let us, in recognition of their invaluable contribution to society and to the nation at large, not remove their privilege of free parking.

Heng Cho Choon