In his letter ("Is student-teacher ratio correct?"; Tuesday), Mr Ivan Goh compared the ratio to class size.
The pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) is the ratio of the total pupil enrolment to the total number of teaching staff in schools, while class size refers to the number of pupils being taught by a teacher at a particular time.
Today, the PTR is about 17 pupils to one teacher at the primary level, and 14 students to one teacher at the secondary level. If the class size were the same as the PTR, it would mean all the teachers are teaching classes all the time. This is not tenable as teachers would need time to prepare for classes, to mark assignments, and to guide students who need help.
Depending on how schools group their students and deploy their teachers for the various subjects, the class size would vary.
For example, learning support programmes in literacy and mathematical skills at Primary 1 and 2 are conducted in classes of eight to 10 pupils.
Some schools may also choose to deploy two teachers to a class of 40 students, where one teacher guides the class through the curriculum while the other assists specific students who may have greater learning difficulties.
We thank Mr Goh for the opportunity to clarify.
Leong Der Yao
Strategy & Leadership
Ministry of Education
This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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