Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim asked the Minister for Education (a) what is the proportion of time that teachers allocate to teaching versus non-teaching administrative duties in a given week; and (b) what is the current budget that schools allocate towards hiring of administrators that assist teachers in areas of non-teaching administrative activities, such as on procurement, billings and reception work.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: Our teachers play many roles in school. Beyond teaching specific subjects, they nurture the whole child. This includes developing socioemotional competencies, life skills, attitudes and values through learning experiences, such as camps, co-curricular activities and other student programmes. Our teachers also provide student guidance and work in partnership with parents to support students.
For these reasons, it is difficult to demarcate teaching versus non-teaching duties and administrative duties.
Based on our surveys, on average, less than 10% of the weekly work hours of our teachers are spent on general administrative work. Over the years, MOE has streamlined processes and used technology, where feasible, to reduce administrative work. For example, teachers now use Parents’ Gateway, an IT platform, to obtain consent from and to disseminate information to parents.
To better support the work of our teachers, we have provided more administrative staff and certain types of allied educators to school.
Each school has, on average, eight to nine administrative staff today, which include the school administration manager, ICT manager, operations manager and administration executives, who assist teachers with general administrative matters, procurement and financial operations as well as logistics support. We have also given schools more flexibility to hire supplementary administrative manpower, who can be hired as adjunct or casual staff. This is about 33% to 50% more, compared to about six administrative staff per school about a decade ago.
Schools are also given funding to hire external vendors to meet administrative needs and support student programmes.
To help teachers better support students with greater needs, we have doubled the number of Special Educational Needs (SEN) Officers in the last decade. In 2015, we also introduced Student Welfare Officers to work with at-risk students, which also helps to reduce the load on teachers.
We have also invested significantly over the last 10 years in teacher resourcing for schools. From 2011 to 2021, our pupil-teacher ratios have improved from 19 to 15 at the Primary level and from 15 to 12 at the Secondary level. We are now on par with average pupil-teacher ratios in OECD countries. Given the tight labour market, there are limits to how much we can expand the teaching force, without a tradeoff in quality.
MOE will continue to streamline work in schools and see how to manage overall demands on our teachers’ time. But we cannot do this alone. We need the support of all stakeholders, including parents and the community, which I have spoken about extensively in the Adjournment Motion on teachers’ well-being last month.
Ministry of Education
4 October 2022