To demonstrate the dominance of pecuniary priority over pedagogy, one teacher puts it best: "It is a free market, giving tuition is very good money." Until we saw it in newsprint, many did not realise that MOE actually sanctions the go ahead for teachers to indulge in up to six hours of off hours private tuition a week. And to think online posts painted a pitiful picture of teachers too tied up with CCA work, and had to resort to private tuition to pursue their love for teaching. For once, credibility tips on the side of the MSM.
You can see how the slippery slope works. Teacher covers only part of the syllabus, and drops subtle hints in class that the balance is available after school hours at negotiable rates. No parent can resist the strategic advantage of having a private tutor who is also the form or subject teacher. India banned all teachers from giving private tuition last year, and errant teachers have been charged in court. But enforcement remains challenging, as the educators are lowly paid and need other sources of income to put food on the table. Singaporean teachers, according to the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Status Index
study, are the highest paid among 21 countries, earning an average annual salary of US$45,755, ahead of the United States' US$44,917 and South Korea's US$43,874.
Member of Parliament for Mountbatten Lim Biow Chuan must have been dropped on his head as a child. He actually said that disallowing teachers from giving tuition on the side could lead to "good, passionate teachers leaving the service." The passion has to be for money, not education.
To stomp down on corruption, the Public Service Division (PSD) recently made it mandatory that civil servants must make a declaration within seven days if they visit casinos more than four times a month or buy an annual pass for unlimited visits to local casinos. Officers in more critical roles than others, for instance in regulatory or enforcement jobs, will have to declare every visit to a local casino within seven calendar days. The MOE should also mandate that teachers must make a declaration of how many hours they are engaged in private tuition for extra curricular sources of income, and where the hell did they manage to find the extra time.