Teachers provide many 'subsidies' to schools

The Ministry of Education (MOE), in reviewing the issue of car parking in schools, should also consider the "subsidies" provided by teachers to their schools ("MOE asks for patience in review on free parking"; Jan 13).

Unlike office workers, teachers are expected to buy their own stationery, such as red pens, files and staplers.

They are expected to decorate their classrooms, but are given no budget, or just a paltry sum, such that they have to pay for the materials themselves. Some teachers also have to pay to print worksheets for their students.

Unlike civil servants, they are not allowed to claim for mileage when they are deployed to other schools for briefings, courses or workshops.

Since teachers have no contractually fixed working hours, they can be called back for duty without any overtime pay or time off in lieu. These occasions include Meet the Parents sessions at night, staying overnight during school camps, and attending school events on Saturdays.

Teachers do not enjoy any annual leave entitlements.

School holidays, once sacred down-time for teachers, have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves. The first and last weeks of the holidays are working days for teachers, who are routinely called back to attend meetings, briefings and preparations.

Teachers have to use their personal mobile phones to contact parents, without any reimbursement for call charges.

Teachers who park their vehicles in school are usually asked to "volunteer" to transport people or equipment during school events, again, without reimbursement.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of the many hidden subsidies teachers provide to their schools.

Perhaps, a holistic review by the MOE and Auditor-General may well reveal that the hidden subsidies given by teachers exceed the so-called carpark subsidies they receive.

Lo Chock Fei