I see Madam Tay Lee Chuan’s proposal (“MOE should control teachers’ working hours”; Thursday) as unrealistic, from a service and practical standpoint.
For a start, to blame the principal for pushing staff to work beyond school hours is ignoring the fact that most of the time, the principal himself also attends to after-school activities and is, therefore, not immune to putting in extra hours during week nights and weekends.
The school is providing a service, with its customers being primarily the students who are minors, and the parents. Students need constant chaperoning.
Parents pick schools with the “best service” to maximise the potential of their children. They have a strong preference for schools with the best results in major exams and strong showing at co-curricular activity (CCA) competitions, which means extra class time and training to boost results.
Most parents have full-time jobs and are not able to attend meet-the-parents sessions or student performances during normal school hours. Therefore, it is not realistic to have such sessions during weekday school hours.
As a grassroots leader, I am also aware that in many yearly major events organised by community centres, the nearby schools are invited to showcase talents, for example, in the performing arts.
This will involve students and teachers putting in extra effort to prepare or rehearse after school. This will benefit students, giving them better CCA grading and outside-the-classroom learning experiences.
All this comes at a price for everyone involved.
Quite often, schools will do their best to ask parent volunteers to chaperone or help out at such extra school activities, but few actually turn up.
Therefore, more teachers are needed on such occasions.
If the Education Ministry can train more teachers to replace those who resign, why not use the same effort to cut class size and share the work load?
Source: The Straits Times