Sunday, January 22, 2006

Unanswered Questions: Beware of Singapore MOE English Teacher Contracts Department

Unanswered Questions: Beware of Singapore MOE English Teacher Contracts Department
January 11, 2006
Dear "Lodi May",
Thank you for your response. A little extra clarification is still required here. Here are some 30 specific questions based on your responses. Understand I have not called because I have not had anything good to say yet. Understand my questions are numerous, and I have previously had contracts to the extent of a hundred pages or more of specifics. As of yet un-documented experience for which I was richly paid. On the Pirate Coast. A desert climate, culture, and government employment within which many a finely detailed document may suffer the fates of Ottoman-like management influences and may remain there in layers, as thick as books of The Bible, but as buried as The Dead Sea Scrolls. Contracts, which I signed blindly, once believing in the good nature of my government employers, which is not always the best policy if one seeks to maintain enlightened self-interest. I do not lambaste government employees, I was one, but have an idea of what it might be like to be one again.
You may wish to know that teachers in Singapore are not paid overtime for extra hours.
However, you will continue to receive your monthly pay during the school holidays.
1. My question concerning this is complex. At what point in time, as in, is it days, weeks, or months in advance that a teacher is informed of the extent of their potential “free time” during school holidays?
2. Is there a deadline requirement that MOE officers must abide by in advance to inform teachers as to the extent of their duties during holiday periods?
3. I do not wish to anticipate free time but I do wish to know what are the timeframes, in advance, that I am given to determine whether I will be working during school holidays?
We do not provide free housing but a fixed rate for housing allowance for expatriate teachers on Cat C terms only.
You are expected to work during the school terms.
4. Clear. What are my typical working hours?
During the school holidays, you may be required by the school Principal or the Ministry to report for work.
5. How much notice will I be provided? What are the scopes of duties during these periods? Are they continuation of regular duties or do they diverge, for example to cleaning, painting, scrubbing, or odd-like duties? Would one ever be required to attend duties to which there would be no actual duties other than office attendance and newspapers turning or clock watchings?
As far as possible, most of our teachers would still be able to enjoy the school holidays in Jun and Dec.6.
Is that carved in stone? What is a reasonable expectation?
Your posting has not been decided because we have not received your official acceptance form. In addition, you will only start work with us in Mar that is in the 2nd term. As such we will be able to give a tentative posting only in late Feb.
Now that is clear.
I wish to reiterate that our teachers are not paid overtime pay.
Your posting will not be ready until nearing your start date. Most teachers are attached to a single school.
What I am looking for here is predictions.
7. What is the likelihood of a single school attachment? 7/10, 8/10, 9/10, 9.8/10?
8. What is the likelihood that undetermined school location will be adjacent to available, affordable, bargain-priced housing options?
The jobscope of the teacher varies from school to school. However, all teachers will need to conduct classroom teaching, mark students' work, conduct CCAs, handle administrative duties, counsel students, prepare exam scripts and invigilate during exams.
For which my previous experience would be useful.
9. What is a CCA?
What we can offer you is stated on our offer letter subject to verification of your original documents.
I will provide such original documents if I accept this offer.
Adjustment to salary is dependent on our assessment on the documentary proof of work experience submitted to us.
The meat and potatoes of why I have little good to say yet. You are giving me chalk. I want more cheese.
10. What is the process by which you assess?
Your documents have been received by our office, however, we are not able to make any adjustment to your pay.
11. What is the predictive range of adjustment of pay based on the criteria you (not yet) described?
12. Specifically, what is the adjustment generally made per year of accounted for work experience?
13. How does that tabulate on five years of accounted-for work experience?
14. What is the adjustment in pay for eight years of accounted for work experience?
Followed the instructions of the recruiter regarding this issue and receiving your position regarding it is contradictory information. Such dictums make me highly uncomfortable and scare me off such a position if such contradictions or so quickly made, pronouncements made even prior to period of employment.
Namely, I am most willing to take this position if my salary is adjusted upwards, with a transparent and accountable method beholding to my knowledge of accounting principles. It is a bad precedence for future contradictions, which may occur if each decision is made so quickly and so apparently arbitrarily. How is it that I could misinterpret my instructions?
Namely, I am trying to assess your willingness to adjust this pay. Clearly prior to signing a contract offer acceptance. It is a reasonable and pragmatic evidence of my logic-based assessments abilities in management peccadilloes or MOE policies setting. I seek to meet them. But only for more cheese.
15. Do you understand why it is important to know this?
I endeavored to provide you with copies of employment certificates from three previous employments or five years of accounted for experience under difficult traveling conditions. Documents not only proving my willingness to account for it according to your requirements but also proving the continued good will on the part of my previous employers. Which only increases my potential future value to you. Not to account for these proofs in adjustment of my salary remains a bone of contention in my craw of experience.
16. But at which point do you prove your good will as a potential employer regarding assessments of salary and proof of previous work experience?
17. Are you saying that you are unable to adjust rate of pay because you do not hold original documents?
18. Or are you saying you refuse to adjust pay for undisclosed peccadillo-like reasons?
I understand that what we can offer you is not what you are expecting.
19. What I am expecting is fair compensation. Based on my efforts in assisting you to meet your criteria in determining them. Something I was told your MOE would favorably adjust based on documentary proof of work experience. I trusted on this point.
20. Do you understand you have contradicted what your recruiter has told me, in writing?
However, you may wish to know that we have placed you on a Cat term contract, which is the best contract term.
We are not able to offer you a higher salary at this point in time.
20. At what point in time will a higher salary be able to be offered?
You may wish to re-consider on whether you are willing to take up the offer.
I am considering and reconsidering. Further information required.
Now concerning educational requirements of MOE, and opportunities for educational sponsorship awards.
21. Can you be forthcoming in explaining the process of attaining educational sponsorship awards?
22. Can you understand why it is essential to know how favorably a potential school location will approach these sponsorship issues?
This is where I assess my postgraduate qualifications are most useful. Namely, their completion was made possible by superior abilities in time management, research, and information gathering. To the extent that a regular program of postgraduate qualification was completed 22 weeks ahead of a regular 52 week roster of courses. This should provide evidence of superior skills in concurrent work and study schedules management. I estimate at least a 30% higher rate of capable learning speed than the average student.
22. How highly does your MOE rate such proven abilities for self-improvement in qualification granting programs?
23. For which educational options would I be eligible?
24. Can you provide me with detailed information regarding MOE educational development programs for working teachers?
25. Can you tell me what the regular scheduling of these programs is, specifically, whether they are taken in off time or during working duty hours?
26. Locations? Can you tell me when the next series of program entries to which I might be eligible would begin and whether or not I might be eligible for them?
27. What is the procedure for which eligibility is decided?
28. Is the educational award process as apparently arbitrary as is your salary increase determinations criteria?
These are the two issues to which I am most reluctant to sign on. Salary adjustments criteria and educational sponsorship options are not clarified, still not comfortably. It is as if you wish a period of assessment of willingness to conform to your wishes on the job before determining the full scope of benefits to which I am requesting, specifically, that you address in the contract, as good businesspeople should, to motivate me to sign that acceptance letter with full relish, flourish, and haste.
Immediate conformance to undisclosed contract requirements without questioning, I am sure this works with fresh, young, fresh graduates. It does not work with schooner Captains.
29. But do you understand that this pudding has already proved itself, repeatedly, over about a decade or more, possibly under much harsher contract requirements? Which guarantees full conformance to your wishes already.
But only on tangible, favourable salary adjustments and clearly marked educational benefits. If it is circular argument, then so be it, it is as much as monkeys scratching each other’s backs might be among friends. But contract situation: You scratch. I scratch. I scratch, you scratch. Are you clear on this?
To which I suspect that MOE wants to sing its own tune without the requiring of any itch scratching, here without cooperating in settlement of these issues to my comfort, namely perhaps because too few are questioning the workings of your enticements in interview, versus recruitment (mis)information (?) versus the reality of the working contract, a multi-purpose position without any scratched-out incentives as per what the contract does not specify. You seek that I desire it without knowing what it is?
This is in turn, a learning opportunity for MOE. Off the high horse please and down to dealing with this man’s contract please. A man possibly helping you to define the cross-cultural issues to which your MOE might successfully increase ratios of highly experienced and still highly motivated, thus effective international operators among the general ranks.
30. Who was that man in the interview (the one I thought was Smok Fin) and when will I hear from him again?
He who made all appear possible? Where is that godi-like man? Can I expect you to defer to his possible judgments in addressing any of these issues?
Again finally…
  • I went downtown, I bought myself an ice cream cone.
  • What do you think premium, double and triple scoops cost?
  • In fact, it would probably cost you less in the long, long run.

I wish to run in one direction for a short period. And then walk purposefully on a solid base of understanding. Without being tripped up by localized issues.

  • I think you might get what you are looking for, but you must also adjust what you expect.
  • You are Asians, are you not supposed to read long-term issues better than I do?
  • Self-improvement is a two way street, determined by individuals and challenges and in their desire to address them.

Organizations in their approach to contracts too. Thanks in advance for addressing my further questions. Seek to improve contract terms to guarantee experienced workers are drawn to them. This is what you get for free.

Sincerely, Daniel Costello

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