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Teachers in Singapore are the youngest, but among the best-trained worldwide: Survey

Teaching and Learning International Survey 2013, conducted by the OECD, finds that training, professional development and mentorship more than compensates for the seven-year gap between the local teaching workforce and the global average.

SINGAPORE: Despite having the youngest teaching workforce among nations studied, the Republic scored well above the global average in terms of the professional development and mentorship of teachers, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 showed.

READ: Despite longer hours, teachers here say they're satisfied: Survey

“A key factor for the success of our education system is the quality of our teachers. This has been painstakingly built up since the early 2000s. Teachers are key to the delivery of quality learning experiences for all our students," said Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education, in response to the release of the survey findings on Wednesday (June 25).

The survey, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), covers more than 30 countries, and required about 106,000 teachers and other school leaders worldwide - largely in lower secondary education - to fill in paper or online questionnaires.

In Singapore, 3,109 lower secondary school teachers and 144 principals from 159 schools responded to the survey. 

AGE AND TRAINING

Singapore has the youngest teaching force among the countries surveyed, with an average age of 36 - seven years below the global average is 43, according to TALIS.

"We have a relatively younger teaching force due to the significant increase in the number of teachers in recent years. The younger teachers complement the depth and expertise of more experienced teachers who continue to be valued, and who provide professional support and mentoring for the Beginning Teachers," the Ministry of Education said in a statement.


However, the Ministry of Education compensates by placing a strong emphasis on training - for example, 83 per cent take a practicum in subjects they teach, compared to the 67 per cent worldwide. Almost all - 98 per cent - are trained in actual classroom scenarios before becoming full-fledged teachers, 9 percentage points more than the global average.

In addition, teachers are "well-supported in professional development, so that they continue upgrading their skills and deepening their competencies as teachers", the ministry said.

TALIS showed that 98 per cent of teachers participate in professional development activities, the highest of all nations surveyed, with a global average of 88 per cent. MOE noted that nine in 10 such activities are conducted at no expense to the teachers.


"Ensuring that our teachers are competent and professional is critical, to bring out the best in every student and prepare him or her to meet future challenges. We have put in place strong professional development support so that our teachers can hone their craft and upgrade their teaching skills throughout their career as educators," said Ms Ho.

A CULTURE OF MENTORSHIP

The survey also found that Singapore has among the highest proportion of teachers serving as mentors for other teachers - 39 per cent, compared to the global average of 14 per cent. Two in five have assigned mentors, triple the 13 per cent global figure.

"Our experienced teachers serve as role models and mentors and play a critical role in deepening less experienced teachers’ understanding of the ethos of the teaching profession and the importance of nurturing the whole child," the MOE said.

"Supporting our young teachers is essential to helping them succeed: our young teachers acquire the necessary skills and knowledge early in their career from well-structured pre-service, induction and mentoring programmes, and are systematically matched to experienced teachers who guide them in the art of teaching and building rapport with their students."


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