MOE Scales Down Recruitment of Teachers

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is cutting back on hiring teachers. It’s  focus is now on replacing teachers who left the service, and recruiting more teachers in the arts and music, humanities, Tamil language and physical education.  

The Ministry announced that only 800 graduates and school leavers have made the cut to become teachers this year. Of those hired so far, mostly are graduates and 15 per cent are mid-career hires.

An eight-year recruitment drive since 2004 has helped it to build up the number of teachers to more than 33,000 currently, said MOE, adding that the total number recruited this year is likely to reach 900 by the end of next month.

However, the number is still a big drop from the hiring peak in 2009, when 3,000 teachers were recruited. In the years after, the figure was between 2,000 and 3,000 a year. Then, in 2013, the number fell to 1,400, and last year, it went down a notch further to 1,300.

Eight years ago, MOE improved pay and promotion prospects for mid-career professionals. That led to the number of mid-career teachers growing from 15 per cent of the teaching force in 2002 to nearly 25 per cent currently.

The recruitment drop has seen more disappointed applicants being turned away. Two graduates who failed to land a position as teachers said they were surprised as they had mastered the right teaching subjects and had some experience.

One of them, a National University of Singapore graduate who declined to be named, said: "I have always wanted to be a teacher and I picked subjects like English language and geography as my majors. I also chalked up experience volunteering as a tutor in tuition programmes run by welfare organisations."

The other, a 21-year-old overseas university graduate, suggested having a scheme similar to Teach for America, where fresh college graduates are recruited to teach for two years in low-income school districts.

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Source: “MOE cuts back on hiring teachers” (The Straits Times, 19 November 2015) 

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