Is there a link between teachers' admin load and nation's tuition obsession?

After reading the reports on Oct 3 ("5,000 teachers leave service over five years" and "Tuition race hots up as big players up their game"), I cannot help but feel that there is a correlation between the issues.

I have friends who are teachers and friends whose children are teachers. Their common grouse is the heavy administrative load ("Set limits so teachers get breathing space" by Mr Lionel Loi Zhi Rui; Oct 4).

A lot of their time is taken up organising events, field trips and overseas trips, counselling students, attending to parents' complaints and demands, and second-guessing what the principals want.

Then, there are co-curricular activities to be involved in.

Include teaching, dispensing and marking assignments, which are their core roles, and the stress just piles up. This is exacerbated by some having to give remedial lessons on Saturdays and school holidays.

With so much on their plates, will teachers have the energy, motivation, and time to plan and focus on teaching and guiding students? Will the quality of teaching be impacted?

Perhaps. This probably explains the whopping $1.1 billion Singaporeans spend on tuition a year.

It is a lucrative business, and former teachers count among the tutors. They are likely to be paid more and experience less stress than when they were teaching in schools.

Tuition fees do not come cheap. Parents with the means can afford it. How about those who cannot? Their children will be disadvantaged.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) highlighted the top three reasons for teachers' resignations as "for childcare, other family considerations, and a desire for a change of job".

However, those of us who are familiar with exit interviews will understand that resignees do not normally state the honest reasons, not wanting to "burn bridges".

It will be useful for MOE to seriously review the workload of teachers, so as to ensure that their core roles are not compromised, and hopefully, that students' and parents' obsessive dependence on tuition can be alleviated.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan