2 Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) whether the annual resignation rate of teachers over the last five years compared to a decade ago from 2% to 3% is a cause for concern; (b) what is the resignation rate of new teachers within five years of teaching in 2015 compared to a decade ago; and (c) whether the non-teaching workload is a significant factor in teachers' resignations nowadays
1 Dr Lim Wee Kiak asked the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) what is the current cost of training a teacher; (b) what is the average number of years that a qualified teacher stays in the teaching service; (c) what are the three main reasons for teachers leaving the profession; and (d) what is being done to motivate teachers to stay and make teaching their lifetime career.
3 Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap asked the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) in each year over the past ten years, how many teachers have left the teaching force after their teaching bond ended, with a breakdown by teachers on the Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Diploma in Education, and BA/BSc (Education) tracks; and (b) of these, how many are (i) MOE scholars (ii) having teaching as their first career and (iii) are mid-career switches to teaching.
The Minister of State for Education (Dr Janil Puthucheary) (for the Minister for Education (Schools): Mdm Speaker, may I have your permission to take Question No 1, 2 and 3 together, please?
Mdm Speaker: Yes, please.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Madam, the cost of training a teacher on the 12-month Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) at the National Institute of Education (NIE) is around $23,000. Salaries are also paid to trainee teachers during their NIE training.
On average, our teachers have been in service for 11 years.
The overall resignation rate for the entire teacher population has remained low at around 2% to 3% a year over the past decade. Over the first five years of service, we see a slightly higher overall resignation rate of around 3% to 4% a year, on average. Typically, there would be an uptick in the resignation rate to about 5% for teachers when their bond ends.
The main reasons for resignations range from family considerations such as childcare, to a desire for a change of job. Workload is not commonly cited as a reason for teachers leaving the service.
MOE recognises that teaching as a profession is demanding and requires significant commitment and deep skills. Many teachers have decided to make teaching their lifetime career and contribute to the development of our next generation. We have consistently paid close attention to our teachers in ensuring that they are (i) fairly remunerated, (ii) provided with developmental opportunities to grow in their careers and (iii) being taken care of in terms of their well-being.
First, teacher remuneration is regularly reviewed to ensure it remains market-competitive. The last two salary reviews were in September 2012 and October 2015, and eligible teachers had a monthly salary increase of 8% in 2012 and 4% to 9% in 2015, respectively.
Second, we provide our teachers with many career and professional opportunities. They can develop their careers by taking up leadership positions in schools and MOE HQ, becoming teacher leaders, or take up senior specialist roles.
The Ministry also provides strong support for the professional development of teachers. The Academy of Singapore Teachers, professional academies and language centres, put together many programmes and courses that help our teachers develop professionally. We also have various financial and leave provisions to support teachers who wish to deepen their professional mastery.
Third, the well-being of our teachers is important to us. MOE is mindful of the high expectations of teachers. To address this, we have put in place measures to support and guide schools in work allocation. Schools also regularly review work areas that can be stopped if they are no longer relevant or meaningful, simplified to reduce duplication and optimise efforts, as well as share good practices to improve work management.
Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang): Mdm Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of State, with 5% attrition or resignation rate after the bond when it ends, whether in analysing all these cases, is there any way that we can improve our selection process to make sure that at least the candidates that we choose to be admitted to this career are the ones that will truly stay on. Are there any ways, after you have analysed data from those who are leaving at the end of five years, whether we can improve the selection process?
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Mdm Speaker, I thank the Member for that question. The potential teachers coming into NIE have a significant amount of orientation and counselling as to the demands of the job.
But the reality is that the person that they are at the point of enrolment is going to be significantly different after perhaps another seven to eight years of their life. They may want to start a family; they may have different aspirations. The reality is that it has to be possible and acceptable for people to change careers as their aspirations change, as the needs of their family change, what they want to do with their life changes. So, to have zero resignations and zero people moving on to a different career would not be tenable or possible. We want to have as good a matching as possible, and the key point would be to ensure that people who choose a career in teaching have a good understanding of what it involves, and provide them the professional development necessary so that they can cope with the rigours of the job, which are demanding.
Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap (Aljunied): Madam, I would like to thank the Minister of State for his reply. I may have missed it, but I believe that he has not answered the whole of my question. Can I have the Minister of State to address my question, please? Thank you.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Madam, I beg your pardon. The Member had asked about the percentage who had left after the expiration of their bond. There was a slight uptick of 5% immediately after the bond had expired. I think I had addressed that in my initial statement. I am sorry. Was there another particular point that the Member wanted to ask?
Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap: I had asked for a breakdown based on the teachers on the Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Diploma in Education and BA/BSc (Education) tracks, as well as how many MOE scholars have been teaching as their first career and how many are on mid-career switches to teaching. I believe that the Minister of State has not addressed these issues.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: The Member is correct. My apologies. Mdm Speaker, I can get those numbers and get back to the Member. My apologies to the House for this delay.
Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio): I was in the teaching service for about five years. I contribute to that 2%-3%. Even though my ex-colleagues and I would frequently complain about workload, about students, but that really was not the impetus for any one of us to leave the teaching service. Most of my colleagues who complain a lot are still there teaching. Nonetheless, I would like to ask if the Ministry would look into the employment and deployment of more teaching assistants, teacher aides or allied educators to assist our full-time classroom teachers to help them better manage the demands of teaching, particularly in terms of carrying out administrative duties, providing student learning support, and even in classroom management.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Madam, I thank the Member for the comment. Indeed, MOE is looking at increasing the number of allied educators for learning and behavioural support, and providing a variety of means to provide skills outside of just the teaching profession to allow the teachers to concentrate on the most important aspects of their profession.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (Non-Constituency Member): Thank you, Mdm Speaker. Minister of State, there is a teacher satisfaction survey that is done every year. May I know what are the main points of dissatisfaction from teachers and whether this concerns the workload?
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Some of the teachers are particularly concerned about the workload and it is not unreasonable to be concerned, given that they are demands on their time. There are concerns with respect to the amount of administrative overheads, and MOE is trying to put in place some IT solutions that should be able to address some of those needs.
The concerns of teachers also include the opportunity to have regular on-going professional development, and that is something that we do have a significant amount of work going into ensuring that every teacher has at least 100 hours of professional development every year.
Other concerns: one of the striking points in the survey was actually the perception of how they are valued and respected within society, and there was, interestingly, a big group of teachers within the survey who recorded that they felt that the value and the respect that they were accorded were reducing and yet this would not stop them from continuing with the teaching profession as they found this a very meaningful profession. Those were some of the deeper analyses that we found.