Change of mindset needed for education system to work

SEPT 15 — “Murid-murid, you all semua pergi tuisyen kan, so cikgu tak payah ajar la, ok?

Why didn’t you remind me to enter class yesterday? Cikgu lupa la.

The above are actual excuses which have been uttered by teachers in school to students.

Whether it was 14 years ago, or last year, such excuses still make its rounds.

This is not a teacher-bashing article. It is wrong to say all teachers are not interested in teaching. Some of us, myself included, have been blessed with wonderful mentors who made us into better people.

Sadly, the bad apples continue to exist, bringing disrepute to what is considered as a noble and selfless profession.

The UPSR fiasco last week has opened a can of worms and teachers now hog the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Malay Mail had, in its front page yesterday, quoted sources as saying working groups within the Education Ministry’s independent committee were deliberating if teachers who taught at tuition centres after school hours had breached their work ethics.

Insiders also asked if these teachers declared their side jobs to the ministry and the Inland Revenue Board.

The source had said: “We have heard students complaining teachers tend to teach minimal during school hours but provide more during their tuition classes. This is against work ethics as teachers are supposed to give their best in school,” said the source.

“Also, these teachers would promise obtaining questions that would come out during the examinations. Some are confident enough to tell their students the questions were supplied by people within the ministry. We must probe if it is just mere talk or if they are working with any syndicates providing them such information.”

Reality check: We have heard all the above for years.

“My teacher used to teach the bare minimum during our Bahasa Melayu class when I was in Year Six. He would then say if those wanting extra coaching to meet him for tuition classes after school hours in the school library,” said a colleague.

“We didn’t think much about it then. But looking back, the teacher had not only breached his work ethics but also abused a school facility for a fee.”

Another colleague recalled how her batch was turned into guinea pigs, unsure of what to expect for the public examination which underwent a revamp during her school days. She likened it to the PT3 saga which Form 3 students face this year.

Some of us remember teachers who used to bring Avon catalogues, even to class, and asked if our parents would be interested in buying some of the products. They even sold tit-bits and cookies, especially during festive seasons.

Such acts are not unlawful. But there needs to be some form of professionalism. It does not help that each subject is taught between 35 minutes (primary) to 45 minutes (secondary). If teachers in schools actually paid 100 per cent attention to their jobs, students would not need to go for tuition.

But students and parents too should play their roles. If students paid full attention in school, as they did in tuition centres, it would help the teaching process. Parents too need to facilitate the process in their own way.

The education system has turned into a vicious cycle and is now overly commercialised in the pursuit of academic excellence.

The ministry too should decipher the problems faced by teachers to ensure they are able to teach in a conducive environment. They should not be bogged down with paperwork and administrative matters and should only concentrate on school work. Teachers should be paid accordingly, based on their experience and qualifications. The reason why many tend to have jobs on the sides is simply due to low wages and the high cost of living.

The new intake of teachers must be scrutinised. Only those who are passionate enough to teach ought to be allowed to graduate as many tend to look at the teaching profession as a “last” resort if they were not able to fulfill their ambitions.

We need to change teaching into a dignified profession as it once was. Teachers are supposed to be our “parents” away from home, our best friend when we need them the most and our beacon of hope when we are in the dark.

To all the outstanding teachers out there, do not allow the rotten few discourage you from your good work. Your legacy will live on for generations as you will be fondly remembered by your students.

To those who think the teaching profession is all about making a quick buck, you are not fit to educate and need to be re-educated.

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