TSC versus teachers: Don’t let row over non-issues derail exams
SEE ALSO :Kuppet opposes mass transfersThat way, he would spare TSC the vituperative attacks and the parents and students much anxiety as they prepare for exams. Besides the exposure its First World status offers its students, one of the reasons Singaporean education is ranked highly is because its teachers, according to The Economist, are “subject to rigorous annual performance assessments.” Another teachers’ strike is in the offing and among the sticky points include the introduction of performance appraisal. Others include the transfer of mostly head teachers and their deputies away from their places of origin under the delocalization policy, career progression and professional development programmes. The umbrella teachers’ union Knut is vehemently opposed to all of the above, especially its members being appraised and the delocalization policy. Frankly speaking, Knut’s stubborn refusal to have its members appraised or shuffled around as the employer deems fit, misses the point. The situation is exacerbated by the belligerent attitude adopted by top union officials including Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion. Mr Sossion’s pronouncements have clouded the issue, which would seem to be the manner the appraisals are being implemented. “You can’t improve on what you can’t measure,” Management guru Peter Drucker once said. Ordinarily, all employers seek to match pay with output. Teaching shouldn’t be any different. One wonders how TSC- the teachers’ employer- will determine pay and even promotion if they can’t measure performance of the teachers. In essence, performance appraisal is meant to ensure that teachers work and give greater attention to their job, which is the transfer of knowledge. That will involve testing the methodologies used by teachers. Understandably, it should not be that teachers spend inordinately longer times filling up forms. Those who have attempted to fill them find it unnecessarily cumbersome and time-consuming. It ends up eating class time. It can be made easier and better. It is perturbing that Knut would want to disregard that salient fact that promotion is linked to performance. Yet we cannot wish away Knut’s genuine grievances. Why, for example, shouldn’t TSC acknowledge and reward the pursuit of higher education? It is dispiriting that TSC won’t recognize teachers with Masters Degrees even with a commendation. Additionally, TSC should be more open about grading and career progression for its employees. Its opaque model evokes disaffection rather than passion and loyalty as it should. The feeling is that it is not fairly administered. The most important lesson from Singapore according to The Economist is the development of excellent teachers. That doesn’t come cheaply. “In Singapore, they get 100 hours of training a year to keep up to date with the latest techniques. The government pays them well, too.” Mr Sossion would do teachers a great deal were he to let them get appraised and then demand for training and more pay to fill the gap. That way, he would spare TSC the vituperative attacks and the parents and students much anxiety as they prepare for exams.
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