As soon as the news that teachers will have to pay season parking charges to park on school premises broke, several members of the public have shared their views on whether they feel making teachers to pay carpark fees is fair.
Teachers revealed to reporters on Monday that those who drive will have to pay season parking charges from August this year. Reporters claim to have seen documents that show that teachers who drive cars will have to pay S$720 yearly for parking in uncovered lots and S$960 for covered lots, while motorcyclists will be charged S$123 annually for parking in uncovered lots and S$135 for covered lots.
This carpark policy revision was initiated as park of a “clean wage policy” that is meant to make any hidden perks and subsidies for teachers transparent. Several netizens have opined that this is unfair since other civil servants, such as grassroots leaders, allegedly continue to enjoy free or lower-cost parking.
Amid views on the new carpark policy that have been emerging, one educator has offered four ways to charge teachers for carpark space and still keep them happy. Writing on her Facebook page, Lisa Li, contributed the following suggestions that would make the carpark policy review more palatable and more fair for teachers:
First, Li offers that the MOE could make the ‘hidden subsidies’ that they want to get rid of by making the subsidy transparent: “Increase all teachers’ annual wages by S$960 and let them decide if they will use it for annual carpark charges or save the money (and environment) by taking public transport.”
The next suggestion is to implement an easy claims system where teachers can claim and be compensated for the things they already do for free, like working overtime, buying supplies or gifts to students for special occasions.
This would ensure that the subsidies teachers offer to MOE are made clear, Li suggested: “Tell teachers that they can submit claims for all other things they already do for free (they shouldn’t be perpetuating these hidden subsidies for MOE) e.g. working overtime, giving gifts to students for Children’s Day/end of year/graduation etc, curriculum development, managing extra events/overseas trips, phone bills etc. Make it easy to submit these claims, offer good rates, and pay up.”
Third, Li said that one way the Ministry could make season parking charges more palatable for teachers would be to tell teachers who drive that the money they pay for season parking goes back directly to help more students: “Tell driving teachers that the extra $960 will go entirely, transparently, to financial/food/book/family assistance for more students. Or even for more counsellors, and a smaller teacher-student ratio for classes. Match the increase in funding at least 1-to-1 with MOE funding. I think most teachers would gladly pay up.”
Last, she said that it would be fair to make sure that efforts to rid or make transparent ‘hidden subsidies’ are extended to all, not just teachers: “Meanwhile, remove or make visible other ‘hidden subsidies’ across the board. e.g. free parking for grassroots leaders etc.”
Li’s comments come as another netizen, the husband of an ex-teacher, wrote a comprehensive post on why it is unfair to charge teachers for season parking. It is believed that the netizen’s post was initially posted as a comment on Channel News Asia’s page but that his comment was mysteriously deleted from the comments thread later.
Another netizen, Facebook user Jonus Jun, reposted the comment by the husband of a former teacher which has since gone viral, with nearly 4,000 likes and over 3,000 shares:
“Coming from a husband of an ex-teacher…Since AG deemed it fair for teachers to pay for their parking at their own expenses, I guess I can advise all my teacher friends to stop the following since it’s “fair wages policy”:
1. Children’s day gifts, class prizes, motivation prizes, class treats, encouragement cards, motivation posters to help the students.
2. Additional study resources, revision notes created out of their own free time in the nights, weekends and holidays.
3. Class charts, decorations, motivation posters, photos printed out of your own money to make the classroom a more positive learning environment.
4. Marking, lesson planning, research done at night, weekends and your own “protected time” during school holidays. After all, these should be done during your working hours in school right since AG wants to be black and white and you are not paid OT?
5. Answering parents’ messages, emails and phonecalls after your slated working hours at 5pm. Oh yes, don’t even use your own internet and mobile data to do so since MOE DID NOT PAY A SINGLE CENT OF YOUR UTILITY BILLS. Doesn’t matter if your student have any emergencies or life or death matters in the families. It’s fair wage policy remember? Must be fair to you.
6. Additional remedial/supplementary lessons/consultation time done after school to help students who are weaker/taking key exams etc.
7. Giving your students pocket money/buying them food and drinks if they have financial difficulties or going for excursions. After all, it’s their own fault if they can’t afford to bring snacks for long excursions right?
On top of that, teachers should stop doing the following unless a fee is paid for these non-teaching duties and responsibilities:
1. Bringing students out for overseas trips/SYF/rehearsals/community events which often fall on nights and weekends, sacrificing your own family and free time.
2. Coming back on weekends to conduct workshops for parents to help them help their own child. Come on, from teaching the child to teaching the parent as well? And for free some more??? Private tuition centres are charging from $50 per hour to $100 per hour for the kind of workshops you conduct!
3. One-to-one meetings with parents to deal with their child’s issues. Some more sometimes get scoldings and shouted at for no good reasons. Even counsellors charge a hefty fee in private sector.
4. Planning and fighting for budget, writing proposals, getting quotations, and all the admin stuff of procurement. After all, these are not done during teaching time right?
There are so much more unseen and unheard sacrifices that parents and students will never know, much less some people at HQ who only wants to implement policies and yet never take the ground feedback into account. While the amount is small, it is a signal from the top management that perhaps, the teachers should learn to be more “fair” to themselves and I fear that the ones who will really lose out will be the next generation. In any case, I’m glad that my wife is no longer in the system and doing a less stressful and happier job as a tutor. Pay is not too bad as well.”