BY VEENA BHARWANI
TEN years ago, Miss Rachel Khoo was just waiting for her A-level results and planning the next stage in her life.
Today she is a teacher.
Back in 2000, students didn't have the options they have now.
Now, there is a sports school for those who excel outside the classroom, the School of the Arts for those who love the humanities and specialised schools for those with a higher aptitude for science and mathematics.
There are also more choices for children with special needs and for those who can't clear their Primary School
"That's the best part of being a teacher - seeing how their (students) lives have improved with the increased number of choices," said Miss Khoo, who teaches geography at NYGH.
So even if Nanyang Girls' High (NYGH) teacher Miss Khoo, 29, didn't get the chance to have all these choices as a student, she is glad that her students are getting a chance to benefit from them.
Her love affair with education began when she was in secondary school in geography class.
Said Miss Khoo: "I simply loved it. It was my geography teacher who made the class come alive as she constantly told us exciting stories about her travels."
After she finished junior college, she dabbled in relief teaching for five months while exploring her options. That was when she considered joining the teaching profession.
In 2000, she did her Arts degree from the University of Western Australia and in 2004, she joined NYGH as a teacher.
As a teacher, she was involved in implementing a number of changes put in place by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in the last few years.
One change that has made a big impression on her is the effort MOE has made to be more inclusive.
She said: "I have gone for training on how to work with kids with special needs. Before, these kids were put in specialised schools.
"Now, they are being admitted into mainstream schools and more teachers are being trained to deal with them. No one is being excluded."
Still, these positive changes haven't stopped her from wishing for even more changes.
For one, she hopes that teachers will have more chances to do exchange programmes in schools overseas.
Currently, she said, these opportunities are hard to come by.
She said: "For example, if there is a chemistry conference overseas, only one teacher in the department will have the opportunity to go."
She said the existing exchange programmes for teachers tend to be short - usually only up to a month. What she hopes for is the chance to do an exchange programme for at least a semester every couple of years to learn the different teaching methods of schools around the world.
Said Miss Khoo: "I think it is important to have a global perspective on issues. We need to learn different teaching and assessment methods to cater to the different abilities and interests among our students."
She added that after a number of years, teachers might get too comfortable teaching a subject in a particular way and the exchange programme can give them the much-needed fresh perspective on the subject.
She said: "Our students get to go on exchange programmes fairly often and teachers should get to do it more often as well.
"It would make us better teachers."
This article first appeared in The New Paper