It’s no secret that teachers (not just in Singapore) hold one of the most stressful professions in the world. With high expectations to educate students, long work hours, heavy workloads, multitudes of responsibilities to juggle and a frequently hostile working environment, it’s no wonder that teaching is a career with high rates of depression.
Teachers here fare no better, despite optimistic sentiments by the Ministry of Education (MOE). A report on The Straits Times revealed that about 5,000 teachers have left their positions over the last five years, with resignation rates shooting up from 2 percent in 2000 to 3 percent of late.
MOE, however, assures that the annual resignation rate of teachers has “remained low”. This, despite the growing pains and more outward discontent expressed by teachers who’ve left the service.
The biggest cause of the exodus from the profession would have to be the fact that teaching consumes all aspects of their lives — it’s nearly impossible to separate work and private life.
Former teachers have attested these reasons for why they hung up their marking pens:
- Long working hours: Teachers often clock in 12 hours of work in school, with some bringing work home, even on weekends and holidays.
- Increased administrative workload: Aside from teaching classes, teachers are expected to handle administrative matters, paperwork and school events.
- Diminished passions: With high amounts of workloads not related to teaching, educators lose their drive and momentum to impart knowledge and make lessons more interesting and valuable.
- Overly demanding parents: Some parents have impossibly high expectations of their children’s education, and take it out on their teachers. One former teacher has had parents calling him past midnight.
It’s not as if MOE hasn’t noticed the rising tide of dissatisfaction by teachers. The top three reasons MOE provided for the resignations are “for childcare, other family considerations and a desire for a change of job”. The ministry, however, acknowledges that administrative workload has been a longstanding complaint, and it has been working to hire allied educators to help teachers with paperwork and students’ counselling needs.