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Poor quality recruits, teacher training led to education decline?

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Khong Kah Yeong wonders how many educators in service had a burning desire to be teachers in the first place.

A number of writers have bemoaned the low standard of education in the country.

The present situation of education in the country could well be the result of a combination of factors. A few of these have already been mentioned by various commentators and readers.

Perhaps the recruitment of trainees into the teachers training colleges is worth a mention.

I once met a retired senior education officer who had been appointed to hold an important position in the teachers’ commission at an informal festive gathering. In an unguarded moment, he lamented the quality of applicants he had to deal with and accept into teacher training colleges just to fill up the colleges. Not infrequently, the commission had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to do that.

Apparently, many of the applicants, especially the males, were not really interested in teaching as a career but had applied simply because they could not find a job elsewhere. Their ambition had always been for some other more glamorous profession.

Is it any surprise that we have teachers who do not really bother to prepare their school lessons well. Many don’t even try and have some depth of knowledge in the subjects they are supposed to teach.

In my granddaughter’s school, she had an English teacher telling the class not to keep their “angry” to themselves and that they should always let it out! The teacher then proceeded to mark my granddaughter’s examples of sentences as wrong because they were “statements” and not sentences! Aren’t statements sentences?

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Besides that, the teacher’s pronunciations of certain words especially those derived from French (like lingerie) left much to be desired. But she insisted her pronunciations were correct when my granddaughter and one of her friends pointed them out.

Can you blame me if I am reluctant to reproach my granddaughter for paying scant attention and having low esteem for her English teacher? Especially when I have seen her having no problem with the exercises in a book published by one of the two oldest universities in the UK for the learning of advanced English for secondary school students.

Her additional mathematics teacher could not answer her sometimes cheeky questions on why certain formulae were the way they were. In this case, the teacher was at least honest enough to say, “Saya pun tak tahu. Salinlah dan buat saje”!

Could such teachers be the products of a weak lecturer in the training college from which they graduated? Could their lecturer be one of those rare ones who taught that the inflections for “drink” are “drink, drank, drunk” and for “bring” are “bring, brang, brung”! Huh?

I shall leave readers to decide.

Khong Kah Yeong is an Aliran newsletter subscriber who has some acquaintance with Malaysian schools.

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