Redwire polled 30 teachers from primary and secondary schools, drivers or not, and all gave a resounding “no” response to the questions of whether the MOE should start charging teachers to park in schools (it’s record-breaking too as it’s the first time we’ve received a 100 percent score on a poll).
The Ministry of Education is apparently considering removing the current free parking system, and that move could take place as early as this year.
Teachers from some 360 schools are likely to be affected.
The MOE says that the move is a result of the Auditor-General’s disapproval last year of some schools allowing staff to park for free or charging fees below the market rate, as this is the equivalent of “providing hidden subsidies for vehicle parking”.
Fearing any impact on their job prospects, the teachers weren’t comfortable with being publicly named, but this is what some of them they had to say.
Mr Lim, a secondary school teacher, felt that if the charges are part of a blanket scheme, then it’d be grossly unfair:
“Where I teach, there’s ample parking spaces and no competition for lots. Some schools, maybe they have to ballot, but not for us. If the MOE is going to approve such a fee, it’s likely to be a blanket scheme affecting all schools for fairness. But it’d be grossly unfair to teachers from my school because we shouldn’t have to pay for parking when there’s so much space available. It’s about the principle, not the money, and pun not intended also.”
Mr Wong, a primary school teacher, felt that the perceived intention behind such a move would affect staff morale:
“As it is now, you’ll hear many complaints when you talk to teachers. They like to complain, but that’s also a sign that morale is low. If the MOE implements this kind of parking charges, it will be regarded as not caring for the welfare of teachers. That is going to make teachers even more upset. Not the charges, but the feeling that even the Ministry doesn’t care for our well-being. I think the Ministry is going to have to spend a lot more on staff welfare programs to bring morale up than it can collect in parking fees.”
Ms Low, a secondary school teacher who takes the train to work, says that teaching is a vocation that cannot be measured in dollars and cents, and called for separate parking spaces for visitors and teachers.
“If you want to charge, that’s fine, but leave the staff alone. Divide the parking areas and let the visitors pay. We as teachers don’t deserve to be treated like this for the work we do, which is supposed to be nurturing the future of Singapore.”
Ms Low jokingly added:
“Aiyah, since we chose this job, we have to pay the price. Bo pian.”