Free school parking debate: Former teacher's Facebook post about 'transparency' goes viral

Cars parked in the Farrer Park Primary School compound.
Cars parked in the Farrer Park Primary School compound. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A Facebook post by a former teacher on the prospect of teachers at national schools having to pay car parking fees at their respective institutions has gone viral.

The private post was reposted by a former colleague, Mr Zack Subramaniyan Senthil, on his own Facebook page on Saturday (Jan 9) evening.

It has since been shared over 3,200 times as of noon on Sunday (Jan 10).

The tongue-in-cheek post to all teachers says they should not be upset about paying parking fees if required, but then they should also stop paying for other things from their pocket.

"You don't have to feel so upset over the impending parking fees. It's a good move to be transparent to the public," the former teacher writes.

"Since the (Ministry of Education) wants to ensure that it doesn't give unsubsidised parking to ensure transparency, it's good to let MOE know that you should also stop paying for stuff out of your own pocket to ensure 'transparency' too."

He then went on to list 13 examples of the "fees" that teachers have had to pay out of their own pocket.

These include classroom and festival decorations, gifts to motivate students and other non-tangible costs incurred, such as remedial lessons they conduct on their own time.

"At the end of the day, is that season parking so difficult to afford? I don't think so." he writes.

"But the message that the sacrifices of teachers are not appreciated by MOE will have a greater cost than the revenue that it can collect from the season parking. Kudos to my ex-colleagues who are still believing in making a difference to the next generation," he concluded, ending his post with the hashtags #justsaying and #moedoesnotcherishteachers.

 
 

The post has since been removed.

Mr Zack, who is currently still teaching, told The Straits Times that he had spotted the private post put up by the former teacher on Facebook. He declined to reveal the poster's identity.

"I just wanted to make his post known to a wider audience. I'm still a teacher myself and I love my job," Mr Zack added.

The Straits Times reported on Thursday that MOE was reviewing carpark charges for schools - which could affect teachers at more than 360 schools and colleges - "in accordance to civil service guidelines".

News of MOE's review had sparked intense debate among netizens. Several readers also wrote into The Straits Times, arguing for and against the move.

A 35-year-old junior college teacher told The Straits Times last week: "Sometimes, teachers use their cars to take students to the doctor or hospital. And they do not make any transport claims."

But proponents of "no free parking" say that allowing it is as good as subsidising the cost of driving for teachers.

Mr Phang Fook Ghay, 56, who wrote to The Straits Times' Forum Page about the issue, said: "How do we justify giving teachers this subsidy when other civil servants are not entitled to it?"