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Another Good Teacher Quit 


First published on in August 2012

Just recently, as I was helping my daughter’s school to prepare for Teachers’ Day, my daughter told me that her form teacher had resigned. “Teachers’ Day will be her last day,” my nine-year old said.


My daughter’s form teacher is an excellent teacher. One of the best she’s had to far—capable, smart, understanding and full of empathy for her students. I felt good knowing that she was in charge of my daughter’s class. She pushed for good grades but knew that there was more to education and life than that.


So I was naturally concerned that this competent educator had decided to quit her job and tried to find out why. This is what I was told. This teacher, who is friendly and open with her students, had shared with them that she was leaving the teaching service to spend more time with her own children. The

within schools or MOE for this. The issue goes beyond individuals—systemic; it’s cultural. We have developed this collective work ethic that places way too much emphasis on achievement and rankings, and does not sufficiently respect this elusive thing called ‘work-life balance’.


But while blame may not rest with individuals, change must start with individuals. And I hope that enough individuals—parents and educators alike—will start to voice their concern over this issue so that eventually we will see change at a broader level.


I grew up in a family of teachers. In my days as a young student, I recall teachers getting home to their families after lunch. School breaks were school breaks. That seems like a very long time ago now.


I hope this very good teacher returns to the teaching service one day. In the mean time, it’s education’s loss.

 heavy workload, she explained, had taken her away from her family too much and resulted in her neglecting her children. She had tried going part time, but that didn’t apparently didn’t reduce her workload and responsibilities enough. So she was resigning to, at least for a while, be a full time mum.


It saddened me that this good teacher felt torn between her job and her family. That she felt she had to choose. That her teaching job was so demanding that she could not juggle it with family. This sounds completely imbalanced and irrational. Amidst all this government talk about being pro-family, our very own education service—which deals with practically all the nation’s children everyday—still puts their own staff in positions where educating other people’s children becomes impossible to balance with raising their own. This is a serious disconnect.


This teacher is not unique in her decision. Other women teachers have left the teaching service for this very reason. And some never return. I don’t want to blame individuals 

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