Be Exemplary in Conduct, Teachers Told

Be Exemplary in Conduct, Teachers Told

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Media Type
Straits Times (Home)

Education Minister reminds them to act in students' best interests.

Teachers are role models for their students, and therefore need to be exemplary in their conduct, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told an audience of educators yesterday.

"Parents and the wider community view our teachers with respect, and as a result, have high expectations of the conduct and behaviour of teachers," he said.

He was speaking at the National Institute of Education's (NIE) first teachers' investiture ceremony of the year, where 320 newly qualified teachers and 28 in-service educators received their certificates for completing diploma or degree programmes in education.

While he did not refer to them in his speech, Mr Heng's comments came after recent cases of sexual relationships between teachers and students put the conduct of educators in the spotlight.

In the most recent reported case, a former secondary school teacher was sentenced to eight years' jail this week, after he was found guilty of having sex with one of his students, who was 14 at the time.

Referring to the ministry's commitment to providing a values-driven, student-centric education, Mr Heng said students are always observing how teachers interact with others.

"It is important that you be role models for your students. Carry yourselves well and practise what you teach.

"As teachers, you stand in a position of trust. Students look up to you for inspiration, and trust that you will always act in their best interests."

He reminded teachers to keep the trust by living up to their commitment in the ministry's Teachers' Pledge, which, among other things, states that teachers "will be exemplary in the discharge of... duties and responsibilities".

During his speech, Mr Heng also commended the inaugural cohort of 28 graduates from NIE's part-time Bachelor of Education degree programme, hailing them as "role models in lifelong learning".

The 3 1/2-year programme took in its first students in July 2008. It was designed for non-graduate primary school teachers currently in service, and six of the 28 are now over the age of 50.

Mrs Susan Teng, 51, told The Straits Times that she had always wanted to get a degree, but could not do so because of work and family commitments. That was why the mother of two boys, aged 15 and 22, jumped at the chance to take up the part-time programme back in 2008.

"It was truly a challenge to see if I could manage the rigour of the programme... I want to let my colleagues know that if I could do this at my age, they should be able to upgrade themselves too," said Mrs Teng, who heads the English department at Coral Primary School.

Another graduate, Mrs Angela Low-Ee, 46, said she is already gearing up to take a part-time master's, in teaching or special needs, to further improve her professional knowledge.

The Maris Stella High School (Primary) teacher said the degree programme has prepared her for further studies.

"Now I'm more 'hardened', I think I should be able to handle it," she said, laughing.

Source: Straits Times (Home), sph