Saturday, September 27, 2008

Teachers will also have to be university graduates from 2015

Sep 25, 2008
Single session primary schs
Teachers will also have to be university graduates from 2015
By Jane Ng
AS PART of sweeping changes to be made to all their primary schools which will move toward a single session, all new teachers will have to be university graduates from 2015.

Schools will also get more support in the form of teacher aides.

These changes will affect all 179 primary schools and will be introduced as part of a review to improve primary education to better prepare pupils for the future workforce.

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen who laid out the broad directions of the changes at the Education Ministry's annual workplan seminar on Thursday, said more could be done to inculcate lifeskills and values in the young, for instance, public speaking, teamwork and confidence.

One way is to get pupils involved in co-curricular activities right from primary school as these would help to develop leadership qualities and mould their characters.

In his address, the minister noted that space is a constraint at many primary schools.

Only 40 per cent of primary schools are single-session so they have to free up classroom space in the afternoon for activities.

But 48 per cent are partial single session, meaning Primary 1 and 2s are still in the afternoon session and another 12 per cent of primary schools have double sessions.

These schools find it challenging to conduct CCA when they have to keep noise levels down because other pupils are having lessons. The lack of space also means they have limited time to use a classroom as they have to give way to another class for lessons.

So all schools will move towards having just one session, with the time frame to be announced at a later date.

From 2015, all new teachers will have to be graduates. This is in line with the expansion of university places to 30 per cent of each cohort by then.

MOE now recruits teachers from the top 30 per cent of each cohort.

The proportion of graduates has increased over the last few years, and some teachers have also got their degrees in-service.

Currently, 55 per cent of primary school teachers and 91 per cent of secondary school teachers are graduates.

Dr Ng cited high-performing education systems around the world, which have teachers with high qualifications.

For example, countries like Korea, Britain and the United States require their teachers to be graduates while all teachers in Finland are required to possess a Master's degree.

'Our move towards recruiting graduates as new teachers is appropriate as the educational levels of the population have been rising over the years. There are higher expectations - both from parents and our desired outcomes of education, which are better met by graduate teachers,' he said.

But he also reassured non-graduate teachers that they will continue to be valued, with assessment based on performance and not their educational level.

To ensure that students have the financial means to take part in CCAs or other enrichment activities, MOE will add $11 million to increase the contribution to pupils' Edusave accounts - from the current $180 to $200 per year for primary pupils and $220 to $240 for secondary students next year.

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