Storm of public outcry erupts after MOE makes teachers pay for parking at schools

Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

Already beleaguered by the stresses of the classroom, long working hours, and overwhelming administrative workloads, Singapore’s teachers will now have to carry the extra burden of paying parking fees at school car parks.

Currently, teachers in primary and secondary schools and junior colleges park for free on the grounds of their workplaces — or at least pay fees below standard market rates. But come August, they will all have to pay a uniform parking rate. Teachers will have to pay $100 monthly during school terms to park at sheltered carparks, while it’s $20 monthly during school holidays in June, November, and December. Non-sheltered carparks are cheaper — it’s $75 a month during school terms and $15 a month during school holidays.

Motorcyclists have it easier — $13 monthly at uncovered carparks and $2 monthly during school holidays. Sheltered carparks will add a dollar more to those fees.

So in total, a teacher might be paying up a maximum amount of $960 per year just to park at their schools.


“No hidden perks”

The Ministry of Education (MOE) defended their decision by saying that free parking for teachers are deemed “hidden subsidies” and does not fall in line with the Public Service Division’s clean wage policy.

“It has become increasingly clear that the current treatment of allowing school staff to park for free constitutes a taxable benefit, as the vast majority of school car parks are located near chargeable car parks and the car parks are intended for the use of staff and authorised visitors, with no access given to the general public,” said the MOE in a statement to queries from the media.

“As such, in line with PSD’s clean wage policy, an appropriate season parking charge in schools will be imposed”.

It would also be safe to assume that making teachers pay for parking would have the side effect of discouraging them to travel by car. Space-starved Singapore has, after all, gone further than any other major city to avoid the monster jams that have blighted Asian metropolises such as Jakarta or Manila.


The ensuing outrage

Often overworked and underappreciated, teachers have one of the most stressful jobs in the country, and it’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in resignation rates over the last couple of years. The response to MOE’s announcement was largely met with disapproval from the public — the general sentiment being that teachers are troubled with enough burdens as it is.

The ones who got really fiery in their criticism were unsurprisingly those with experience of how teachers are apparently treated here.


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