Tuesday, May 25

Schedule of a Singapore Teacher

The article below is written by a teacher's wife to The Straits Times, Singapore's leading newspapers, to talk about the hectic schedule of her hubby.

As much as everyone know about the importance of work-life balance, it is actually not that easy to achieve, given the super competitive nature of our society.

Among my friends, more and more are shunning the teaching profession (and that includes myself). Parents are demanding more and more, and kids these days know their rights (in a bad way).

With that said, I got to take my hats off to all the teachers here in Singapore. You guys are the unsung heroes that I could never be.

And it's one of the social price that a society pays to be on the top of international academic rankings.

Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher

I AM often told how the Ministry of Education is easing teachers' workload, but I see little evidence of it.

My husband has been teaching in a neighbourhood school for several years. Despite the mantra of work-life balance, I see little of it in the lives of teachers. Here is a typical weekday routine for my husband:

* 5am: Wake up and prepare for school.
* 6am: Leave for school.
* 7am: Arrive at school and perform morning duty (in a sense, 'guard duty').
* 7.30am to 1pm: Regular teaching duties (including extra games for students who need more exercise during recess, which is part of the Holistic Health Framework that replaced the Trim and Fit scheme).
* 1 pm to 1.30pm: Prepare for remedial lessons.
* 1.30pm to 3.30pm: Conduct remedial lessons (my husband's school believes that to improve students' results, remedial lessons must be conducted daily).
* 3.30pm to 5.30pm: Be present for the co-curricular activities he is in charge of.
* 5.30pm to 6.30pm: Administrative work like keying in remarks on students for the mid-term report book).
* 6.30pm to 6.45pm: Pack 36 books and piles of worksheets to take home and mark.
* 6.45pm to 7.45pm: Travel home.
* 7.45pm to 8.30pm: Eat dinner and rest.
* 8.30pm to 1am: Continue with administrative work, such as marking books and worksheets, reviewing examination papers, and preparing programmes for the June school camp and Youth Olympic Games activities.

Weekends are hardly restful. I often ask him if the endless work is because he is singled out. That is not so, he tells me. His colleagues face the same punishing workload.

As I am writing this letter at 10am, my husband has developed a fever. But he is unable to seek medical attention as there is an oral examination in the afternoon.

I understand there is a need to be accountable to students' parents. But in this case, who is answerable to a teacher's family if anything happens to the teacher?

Aishah Quek (Ms)


iamthewitch said...

You really don't know the teacher's life until you read about it. I guess this only happens in Singapore? I have a few friends teaching in Malaysia, they don't seem to have such hectic schedule...

Mei Teng said...

I find it hard to believe that a teaching profession is tough.

With the little that I know, I think some teachers don't have classes like everyday from start to finish of the day right? Also, they have school breaks and they don't need to work overtime.

Working in the corporate world (and Chinaman company) is tougher!

boh.tak.chek. said...

i suspect that there's loads of such letters from teachers that Straits Times has refused to publish. That's because publishing of such letters will scare away all the potential teachers out there.

the girl in stiletto said...

same thing with doctors. things can get so crazily busy that sometimes in a day, i hardly get to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, go to the toilet, or even drink!

one time i was extremely sick on xmas day and i had to be oncall. working all day with fever that i vomited few times. did they send me back??


they think doctors are robots. i swear to god.

Bananazą®‡ said...

Not easy to be a teacher in Spore quite stressful. All the while thought teachers only work half a year and play the other half maybe not in Spore. tQ.

khengsiong said...

Not sure about Singapore, but in Malaysia, many teachers moonlight by giving tuition. This is the advantage of joining this profession.

HappySurfer said...

I read a letter in The Star the other day indicating how tough a teacher's job is these days. They do a lot more admin work besides teaching and marking papers/books. I wonder if this is the current trend across the board.

MKL said...

This is like slavery, OMG. Singaporean teachers should be paid for the work outside the school. But even that won't make their lives better... (my full comment in private).

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Who are the ones really attracted to this noble profession these days, I wonder?? We read in the media of teachers being bogged down by too much admin work.

LilyChen said...

Wow, in Taiwan our teachers can't be as tired or busy as yours, hard for me to imagine that your teachers have to work so hard!!Only few hours sleep, do the teachers have time to accompany their family? Sign...

Oh, btw, there is an award waiting for you back at my blog ^^

foongpc said...

I do believe a teacher's job is tough!

Jane said...


"I find it hard to believe that a teaching profession is tough.

With the little that I know, I think some teachers don't have classes like everyday from start to finish of the day right? Also, they have school breaks and they don't need to work overtime.

Working in the corporate world (and Chinaman company) is tougher!" by Mei Ting

Hi, I really don't know of any teacher in Singapore who's that free): Honestly, even during school holidays in june and december, teachers are in school, working, planning the scheme of work for the next semester or the next year and things like that. I think its all the admin work that's killing the passion of teachers here. besides, it seems like the work more than 12 hours a day, i.e. 6.30am - 10 pm?? Teachers are human too.

About the corporate world, well, all I can say is, the grass always seem greener on the other side.

To all teachers out there, KEEP GOING!!! I honestly admire your perseverance. Teachers, doctors, nurses etc, they aren't noble professions for no reason.

Imagine not being able to choose any time to take a day off, imagine all the responsibilities of the lives they hold in their hands, imagine how they have to conduct themselves at all times, not breaking down even when its past their breaking point.


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