Teachers’ Day Message 2021 by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing

Published Date: 02 September 2021 01:30 PM

News Speeches

1. To our teachers and our education community across Singapore: today is a special day. Every September, we as a country say two words we should be saying to you every day of the year - Thank You.

2. This is even more pertinent considering that these two years have posed unprecedented challenges. COVID has had a big impact on schools. We had to live with uncertainties and frequent disruptions. There has been much work behind the scenes to keep our schools going and safe.

3. On behalf of our nation, I salute our teachers for your resilience and resourcefulness. Thank you for going the extra mile. You have kept learning going through the pandemic. You have shouldered much additional workload and made personal sacrifices. You have picked up new skills and found innovative ways to help students to keep learning, such as Blended Learning.

4. We thank you for looking after each and every of our students, and for looking after one another to weather this crisis and come out stronger, so that we can move forward together and leave no student behind.

5. In commemoration of Teachers' Day, I would like to launch the 'Gratitude Portal' – one of the many ways we can thank our teachers and staff this season. I would like to encourage everyone to visit the portal at Thankyoucher.edu.sg to submit our messages of appreciation, and view messages from students, parents, and fellow educators. We present this gift to our educators, to recognise your contributions to our students and nation.

6. I also want to affirm the importance of our teachers' well-being, including your mental well-being.

7. Many of you have chosen this noble profession because of your heart for our students.

8. I am aware that teachers today are expected to play many more roles, beyond imparting knowledge. You are also coaches, cheerleaders, role-models, trouble-shooters, advisors, and many more. You are our first line of defence to support our students' well-being, including mental health.

9. Many of you are also parents, with family commitments of your own. Even as you devote yourselves tirelessly to our students, we must look out for one another. We will and we must take care of one another so that we can take care of our students.

10. As the saying goes - one cannot pour from an empty cup. Your own well-being matters too.

11. At the Schools Workplan Seminar yesterday, we discussed this topic extensively. Our leaders and I are committed to supporting the well-being of our educators and staff. We will be continuing our conversations on this. What can we do to further support for our teachers' well-being?

12. First, we must ensure a manageable workload for our teachers. This includes having clear guidelines on your responsibilities. Allocating more teachers and para-educators to schools with higher needs. Moderating workload on schools and the training load of staff by entrusting schools with greater autonomy to pace out the work,

13. Second, we must promote both physical health and socio-emotional well-being. We will provide counselling services and a hotline – which are accessible and confidential touch points of support, without stigma. Free workshops and events for self-care and personal growth. Sports activities, health screening and subsidies for additional tests.

14. Ultimately, we want to build a positive culture that focuses on our teachers' well-being, and support good work-life balance. Soon, we will equip some teachers to be Wellness Ambassadors in schools, to provide mental and emotional peer support to colleagues who approach them. We will encourage greater teacher autonomy and teacher agency, not just in professional learning but also in other aspects of work.

15. Finally, I am encouraged and inspired by the passionate pursuit of lifelong learning among our educators. Just as we encourage our students to recognise their unique strengths and potential and adopt a spirit of lifelong learning, so too must we do it for our educators. We can all keep growing, and keep trying new things.

16. We want to better support our teachers to gain additional exposure beyond their current roles in schools. This includes diversifying experiences beyond the classroom to give them novel, refreshing experiences in the public, private and people sectors. We want to explore new areas for inter-disciplinary learning. Build complementary skills and experience a sense of personal and professional growth.

17. All these are critical for our teachers' development and emotional well-being too. Some of our teachers have already participated in such attachments.

18. One of our teachers at Bukit Timah Primary was attached to APSN Katong School for 4 weeks, where she learnt about Special Education (SPED) school curriculum and vocational education. And accompanied students on field trips and Community Involvement Programmes (CIP). She brought useful skills back to her school and colleagues on how to better connect, and include students with mild special educational needs in the classroom like simple, clear step-by-step verbal and visual instructions.

19. Another teacher from Princess Elizabeth Primary did an attachment at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). This helped her to understand the landscape of support for mental health, and the resources available to build youth resilience.

20. From next year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will put in place structured processes for teachers to embark on a range of attachment opportunities. We aim for it to be a norm for all our teachers to have these exposure opportunities. Schools will be encouraged to send teachers for attachments. We will be sharing more details with schools at a later date.

21. To our teachers and our education community: you are an inspiration to our students and our country, and your role is irreplaceable. The impact you make may not be evident immediately. In fact, it may only be seen many years down the road. But we all know, deep in our hearts, we are all transforming lives, and nurturing the next generation so that every child in this country will be prepared for the future. And that every child is given the opportunities to develop his or her potential to the fullest.

22. I am grateful for your sacrifices and contributions. Thank you and wishing all of you a Happy Teachers' Day.

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