MOE asks for patience in review on free parking

Many of The Straits Times readers writing in on the issue called for parking for teachers in public schools to remain free.
Many of The Straits Times readers writing in on the issue called for parking for teachers in public schools to remain free.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

It acknowledges concerns over issue of making teachers pay to park in schools

The issue of whether teachers should pay to park their cars in schools will be carefully considered, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday, as it acknowledged the debate this has generated.

"There has been much online chatter on the review of free parking in schools," MOE posted on its Facebook page yesterday.

"We understand the concerns raised and we are with you in appreciating the dedication and hard work by all our teachers."

Many people, including former and current teachers, have criticised the possibility that teachers and other school staff who drive to work will no longer get to have free parking.

The Straits Times received about 25 letters to its Forum pages on the issue, with most calling for parking for teachers to remain free.

This was after The Straits Times followed up on a report last week in Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao that the ministry was considering whether to implement carpark charges at public schools.

Those against the move argued that teachers already work long hours, and often go out of their way to help students. This includes giving at-risk students a lift to school so they do not miss lessons, and taking sick ones to the doctor - all without claiming for expenses.

Others, however, said giving teachers free parking amounted to subsidising their driving cost - a perk not given to other civil servants.

"We seek your patience and understanding as we are still in the process of reviewing the carpark policy for schools, bearing in mind civil service guidelines and recent AGO (Auditor-General's Office) observations. We are taking the time to do this carefully," MOE said in the post.

Last year, the AGO pointed out in a report that the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic charged below-market rates for the use of their carparks.

This, the Auditor-General said, was akin to providing "hidden subsidies" to staff. It also went against the Government's "clean wage" policy, which stipulates that salaries are fully accounted for, with no hidden perks and privileges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'MOE asks for patience in review on free parking'. Print Edition | Subscribe