Pay rise for teachers and boost for non-grads among them

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

From October, non-graduate classroom teachers will progress in the same way as peers with graduate qualifications and be paid along the same salary structure, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday.

At the same time, up to 30,000 teachers will receive 4 per cent to 9 per cent increases in their monthly wages, to ensure they keep pace with the market. All trained teachers will also get an annual special payment each September from 2016, which will be between $500 and $700 in cash.

Additionally, up to 800 allied educators will receive 5 per cent monthly wage increases from October. Graduate and non-graduate salary structures for these non-teaching staff, such as counsellors, will be merged from next April.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said: "The revision in salary... signals the importance we place on the contribution of teachers."

"This is very much in line with SkillsFuture, to go beyond academic qualification to focus on skills and contributions," he added.

SkillsFuture is a national movement started last year to encourage Singaporeans to develop specialist skills through training and career progression schemes.

Under October's changes, graduates and non-graduates will receive the same payouts under the long- term incentive plan Connect, which recognises the commitment of dedicated teachers.

Currently, a graduate teacher is eligible for a higher maximum monthly salary and Connect deposits than a non-graduate classroom teacher.

However, graduate and non-graduate teachers will continue to be recruited at different starting salaries.

An MOE spokesman said this is "in line with market practice" and "also takes into account the longer duration that is typical for graduates to pursue a degree, which then translates into later starting age for the graduate teacher".

In the MOE, the current gross starting salary of graduate teachers ranges from $3,010 to $3,310, while that of non-graduate teachers ranges from $1,580 to $1,920.

Experienced non-graduate teachers in leadership or senior teaching positions are, however, paid according to the same salary structure as their graduate peers.

The change is a welcome one for non-graduates such as Ms Liyana Sajupri. The 27-year-old Ngee Ann Primary School teacher said: "It is fairer in a way, because the amount of effort put in by a graduate and non-graduate is the same."

Ms Liyana, who has a Republic Polytechnic diploma in biomedical science, said that among her peers, graduate teachers are usually promoted within two to three years, while non-graduate teachers often have to wait a year longer than that.

She said: "The passion keeps us going but this provides a little more motivation to continue doing what we have been doing on the same level ground as everyone else."

  • Additional reporting by Melissa Lin
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline 'Pay rise for teachers and boost for non-grads among them'. Print Edition | Subscribe