Retired but they're back to full-time teaching

They retired from teaching some years ago but are now working full-time at Poi Ching School – (from left) Ms Evelyn Chua, maths teacher Tan Jwee Seng, 71, school counsellor Lim Siang Yong, 69, learning support coordinator Margaret Ho, 71, and music teacher Leng Poh Lan, 68.

Nearly 40 years after she first became a teacher, Ms Evelyn Chua is still pursuing her passion - despite retiring in 2005. The 65-year-old teaches English to two Primary 6 classes at Poi Ching School in Tampines, spending seven hours there each day.

She is one of more than 800 retired educators who are working full-time today as part of the Ministry of Education (MOE) adjunct teachers programme, introduced in 2004 to bring former teachers back to work. In 2008, there were 250 such teachers.

The scheme also offers a more flexible arrangement, in which returning teachers are paid an hourly rate. Currently, 900 retired educators are on the flexi-adjunct teachers programme.

There are 33,000 MOE teachers in Singapore.

An MOE spokesman said re-employed teachers keep their last-drawn salary if they have the same position and job scope. But those who do not take on the full workload as before retirement will "have their salaries adjusted accordingly".

"MOE recognises that retired principals and teachers, having built up considerable experience and knowledge throughout their service, are a valuable resource to the education system," she said.

About 70 per cent of the retired teachers are 65 and above. The oldest among this group is 80.

Retired educators said many go back to teach as their children have grown up and moved out, freeing up much of their time.

Madam Wan Pei Fang, who first joined the education service in 1973, decided to teach again in 2007 and is now working full-time at CHIJ Secondary School (Toa Payoh).

The 63-year-old's two children are in their 30s - her son, the older child, is married with two children while her daughter works overseas. Her husband, a tool designer, retired some five years ago.

"There's no reason for me to stop teaching. My school still values me, my younger colleagues listen to my suggestions and I enjoy the flexibility that I have to look after my grandchildren," said the home economics teacher.

"Sometimes, my students tell me that I'm very motherly and naggy. I tell them that I'm reminding them so that they don't forget."

Teaching children today is a bigger challenge, says Ms Chua, who started her career at Rosyth Primary in 1966. She had retired in 2005 to look after her ageing parents, but went back to teach part-time a year later, before moving to the full-time scheme in 2010.

"In the past, parents were so shy when teachers called them, and children of yesteryears were seen, not heard," she said.

"Today, parents want a lot more from teachers and their children's results. Children also want to have a say in many things. But I think basic values like integrity, responsibility, discipline, respect and courtesy still stand, and these are what I want them to learn."

Her friends wonder why she wants to continue working on a smaller salary when she could be enjoying retirement and not have to wait till the peak-period school holidays to go travelling.

Ms Chua tells them the rewards are many. "When I see my old students outside, all grown up, and they show me their children, it's a wonderful feeling. If my health permits, I would want to teach for another five years."

This article was first published on December 28, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.