The Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore’s shores over a year ago, impacting our lives and changing the way we live and work.
Recently, a nationwide survey conducted by Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC) found that over 80% of teachers shared that their mental health has been negatively affected by the coronavirus.
The main reason cited was longer working hours due to the heavier workload placed on them.
Their survey has also shown that about 80.6% of teachers worked over 45 hours a week, well above the average for the Singapore working population.
On Wednesday (22 Sep), SCC released the results of their survey involving 1,325 teachers working in educational institutions from pre-schools to junior colleges.
Of the teachers surveyed, more than 80% said their mental health suffered due to their work during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 62% said their physical health was affected and that they had insomnia, recurring headaches, and were more irritable.
Overall, 94.6% of the surveyed teachers said they were negatively impacted by their work.
Of these, 32% shared that they fell sick easily and nearly 43% said their personal relationships suffered.
The survey was conducted via email and through social media from 13 Aug-3 Sep.
When asked about how their feeling towards jobs, these were the most common emotions identified:
These negative emotions were largely attributed to their excessive workloads and lack of work-life balance.
Teachers often had long working hours and over 80% of those surveyed were putting in over 45 hours per week.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), workers who work 5 days a week should only spend 44 hours working.
During a press conference on Wednesday (22 Sep), Ms Karen Soon, project lead of the study, said the lack of work-life balance is due to the culture of long working hours as well as the inability to switch off from work.
She also revealed that primary, secondary, and junior college teachers cited issues of heavier workload more than pre-school or special education teachers, reported The New Paper (TNP).
Ms Soon also elaborated that teachers often juggle multiple duties that include teaching, classroom management, dealing with parents, and event planning.
During the pandemic, this list has expanded. They now have to enforce safe management measures and conduct classes for students who miss lessons due to quarantine orders.
Speaking to The Straits Times (ST), a secondary school teacher said stress levels have risen due to unexpected scenarios during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These include having to cover for colleagues or accommodate students who missed lessons.
The uncertainty and fluidity of the current situation also make the planning process more challenging.
A primary school teacher added that administrative tasks are taking up too much of the teachers’ time.
Menial admin processes, such as chasing students for approved absence documentation, should be simplified and streamlined, she suggested.
In the survey, more than half the teachers also said they struggled to manage students’ behaviours. This is made worse due to insufficient support for students with special needs and troubles dealing with parents.
Over 40% of teachers also felt underappreciated for their work.
Despite the stressors, the survey found that just a minority of participants sought help.
In particular, only 10.8% of the teachers spoke to their supervisors and 8.2% approached mental health professionals for support.
Giving suggestions, many teachers called for a reduction in class sizes so they can better deal with the students.
Other suggestions include reduced workload, higher income, and undisturbed leave.
However, in spite of all the drawbacks, 81.4% of teachers reportedly said they enjoy job satisfaction thanks to positive interaction with students.
Teachers are the bedrock of our society. Their jobs involve much more intangibles than just educating, nurturing, and supporting our youths.
Hopefully, in time to come, they too can receive more support and appreciation for the good work they do.
If you are a student or a parent, do your best to support our educators throughout this especially challenging time of the pandemic as well.
Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image adapted from Ministry of Education on Facebook.
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