July 18, 2008 Allow teachers to teach, or many will keep quitting
MY WIFE has taught in a neighbourhood secondary school in the east for more than five years. She is currently a form teacher in a lower secondary class.
Besides teaching, preparing lessons, marking papers, leading co-curricular activities and so on, she has to do a lot of admin and non-teaching-related work.
This includes selling donation tickets, collecting money and forms, taking minutes during meetings (rotated among teachers) and doing projects on new software. All this takes considerable effort and often eats into time she could spend on value-added work, such as preparing lessons.
Many of her peers also complain of too much non-teaching related responsibilities. In fact, those who have left the teaching profession shared with her that this was the main reason they quit.
Many became disillusioned as when they started they wanted to be an educator but they eventually became more of an administrator. The Ministry of Education has said it is looking into improving teaching as a career. Not long ago, there was also mention of hiring 'teacher-assistants' to help form teachers cope with admin and non-teaching-related work.
Well, this has yet to materialise in the neighbourhood school where my wife teaches.
Unless there is a change in mindset and improvement in working conditions, I am afraid turnover of teachers will remain high. And that is definitely not beneficial to students.