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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Only quality teachers can make the transformation
By: (Mar 09, 2011)
EFFORTS to improve the standard of education will be futile if teachers are unprepared to be part of the plan and are unresponsive to the calls for change. As had been said many times by many people that the country can have the most sophisticated First World equipment that money can buy but they will be of not much help if those who are supposed to operate them are still steeped in their Third World mentality, unmotivated and lacking in the urge to acquire new skills.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, when addressing the joint opening of the two houses of Parliament on Monday, hit the nail on the head when he said that for the educational transformation to truly be successful the country must have quality teachers. In saying so the King was only acknowledging what many educational experts have been saying all along and what many parents have found out about the quality of teaching in the national schools. As has been said by educators and experts the quality of education is only as good as the quality of the teachers.
Among the reasons for the exodus of Chinese pupils from national schools is the perceived low standard of education, again as a result of poor quality of the teaching standards. Indeed some parents who are averse to sending their children to Chinese schools but have taken them out of national schools have blamed the poor quality of teaching for what they have done. They have opted for home schooling and paying enormous sums for that. They would rather have their children continue in national schools if the quality of education had not dropped to the present standard.
However all is not lost and the slide can be arrested by the Education Ministry. Remedial action must be taken to motivate and improve the quality of teachers while special care must be exercised when recruiting new teachers so that only those who did well in their examinations and have the proper temperament for the job are selected. Their records must also be scrutinised for character blemishes and past indiscretions so that they can enforce discipline without having their authority questioned.
Teachers must be carefully prepared to face their pupils whose daily diet of multi-channel televisions and the Internet are making them more knowledgeable. They must be made to accept the fact that their role is more as a guide and a coach than a provider of knowledge.
The ministry, too, must make an effort to increase the number of non-bumiputras in the teaching profession. While this may help the pupils to acquire different perspectives and views of issues that confront them, it may also attract the non-Malays back to national schools. Only then can national schools be a true crucible of national unity. And only then can the transformation be effective, real and meaningful.