Are preschool teachers underpaid in Singapore?
Four individuals give their opinion on whether preschool teachers are underpaid.
Ensuing the recent child abuse saga that happened late last week, preschool teachers in Singapore suddenly find themselves under the limelight, closely scrutinised by concerned parents and principals, as well as the CCTV camera.
And yet, the child abuse case is not the only problem they face. And after all that they have been through, it seems that they are not receiving a satisfactory remuneration, and are under appreciated.
We gathered the opinions of four different individuals. All of whom are involved with preschool children. This included a parent of a pre-schooler, a principal of a preschool centre, a regular school teacher with a preschool child, and a preschool teacher. We asked them what they thought about preschool teachers’ jobs.
Here are what they have to say:
A parent of a pre-schooler, who wishes to be identified as “Anna”
We wanted Anna to tell us if preschool teachers get fair treatment. She responded by saying that it is really “unfair for them”.
Anna: “Not only do preschool teachers have a heavy workload, they have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders, taking care of the pre-schoolers needs. For regular school teachers, their primary concern is to teach, and that is basically it. It is really unfair for them (preschool teachers). For those who have to work extra time, they don’t have much of a break, only the 2 to 3 hours when the kids are having their nap times.”
Principal of a preschool (will not be named to protect the institution’s reputation)
She says that a preschool teacher’s pay ranges from $1,200 to $3,800. This, depending on their positions. While an assistant teacher (without certifications) is paid the least and an experienced supervisor is paid the most.
She also added: “We understand that they are human beings, and have moods. When they are unhappy about something, we try to talk to them and rectify the problem. We have staff trips and celebrations to show that we recognise their efforts and are appreciative of all the work they have done.”
Secondary school teacher, who has a son in preschool and wishes to be identified as “Miss T”
Miss T: “Judging by the amount of work they do, they should definitely be paid at least $2,500. My own child has a really nice teacher, very dedicated to her work and I appreciate that. Secondary school teachers do have quite long hours as well, especially when we have to do tedious administrative work and mark papers. But I also understand that preschool teachers do not necessarily have a degree, while it is requisite for secondary school teachers to receive a higher pay.”
Preschool teacher, identified as Liz, who actually has a degree from NUS
She has a very interesting opinion on preschool systems in Singapore and whether she found her work satisfying.
Liz: “It is definitely a difficult industry. I have been in this line for about 10 years. Firstly, why our western counterparts are faring better in terms a better quality education and salaries is because rental is high here. Centres need to make profit. Parents in Singapore may not be as informed about preschool education. Plus, they need to change their mindset.
Parents in other countries are more open to their child learning through exploration and ‘falling’. In Singapore, parents are more protective and cautious. They are too concerned when children fall or get ‘dirty’ and they make a big thing out of it. Which in turn make the teachers too cautious and spend too much time looking out for the children’s safety. This, rather than having fun and quality time with them.”
She continues by saying, “The pay range that I mentioned is from $1,500-$2,300 (what the average teacher gets). There are private reputable schools like Montessori or Eton House, which can afford to pay more perhaps on the higher end of $2,000. By the way, I get $2,300 and that is after years of experience plus my qualifications.
However, I must point out that in this line money is not the most rewarding factor. The non monetary reward we get that money cannot buy is the fruit of our labour—when we see the children developing and learning well and the relationship and bonding we have with them…”
She concludes her thoughts by saying, “Let me end by sharing an inspiring observation that I heard during a workshop. The person talked about how (we) the preschool teachers are sowing what we cannot see. But in the future these little seeds that we have sown can grow. And, flourish into trees that we cannot imagine. She likened it to a bamboo plant, which takes a long time to sprout. But once it does it grows into a strong, resilient and beautiful tree that you can see many years down the road.”
What’s your opinion about this matter? We’d love to hear from you! Watch this video about why preschool teachers deserve more