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Just let us teach, teachers cry out

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Mustafa K Anuar listens to stressed out teachers who complain that instead of being able to focus on teaching, they now have to taken on a load of redundant work.

Teaching is still rewarding but it can be a challenging career as teachers today are overworked, said a primary school teacher with 30 years of experience.

“It’s a collaboration of the mind, heart and spirit,” said the teacher who did not want to be identified.

She said the first challenge teachers face today is administrative work. “The paper work seems to be redundant because it is done online and at the same time printed out too to check for accuracy and objectivity.

“Instead of focusing on teaching, learning and other assessment processes, teachers are doing a lot of redundant work. This leads to a drop in the efficacy and effectiveness of teachers.

“In fact, many are stressed over paperwork and deadlines set by the education officials,” she told The Malaysian Insight.

The 21st Century curriculum on learning skills has been integrated in a number of schools. Her school is one of them, but she believes that there must be good infrastructure, equipment and facilities in all schools to complement good teaching. “We are deprived of having enough LCD units in classrooms to carry out ICT (information and communications technology) lessons.

“Although we have a computer lab in the school, the usage of the room is limited as it is a shared resource. Since most computer labs are separate from the classroom, they are not immediately available and are often shared among many classes.

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“The layout of most computer labs is rigid and fixed and there isn’t much room for group activity, since keyboards and mouse usually take up most of the desktop space,” she said.

She added classrooms are also often overcrowded.

In this teacher’s case, she has an average of 34 students in a class, apart from her three English classes, which constitute 30 periods of English lessons in a week. “I call it stress as I have KPIs (key performance index) to achieve for all my three classes, among which one is a Year 6 class (UPSR) and two Year 5 classes.”

Furthermore, there is a problem of “curriculum overload”. “With the continuous demand to implement new programmes in schools, in spite of the various primary curriculum subject areas, it’s only natural for all teachers to be under a lot of stress.

“Teachers are also burdened with clerical duties and too many long meetings. Why can’t we teachers be allowed to do what we were trained to do? That is, to teach!”

Some teachers also have no passion to teach as teaching is no longer seen as a noble profession.

Another teacher, attached to a premier school in Penang, echoes a similar concern about paper work. Preferring to be anonymous, she said that the administrative overload of keying in the daily attendance of students and their performance and then to repeat it manually on paper has diverted teachers away from their core business, which is teaching.

Some teachers, she added, have no passion to teach because teaching is no longer regarded as a noble profession as it used to be.

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Alumni, she said, can do a lot to help improve their alma mater, apart from providing much-needed funds. They can provide guidance and leadership to students and teachers as well as being role models.

A few of the premier schools in the country have lost their soul, she added.

A teacher in a secondary school in Bukit Mertajam laments that there are too many activities for teachers to handle. “Apart from extra-curricular activities in schools, you have activities outside school: debating competition, sports and as such. These take the teachers away from the class, and at times they have to be relieved by colleagues which may burden them unnecessarily.”

Source: The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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15 Nov 2018 9.12am

An uncle and three aunts of mine were teachers and back in the 1960s and early 1970s, when I was in school, few teachers had degrees but had graduated from teacher training college locally or Kirby in the UK, and they were good at their work, dedicated and produced good students who went on to do well in their different walks of life, even having left school with a Senior Cambridge of an SPM (MCE).

They taught the standard Cambridge curriculum and could focus on teaching, less encumbered by all this burdensome and time consuming administrative work and KPIs were unheard of back then.

Today, with fancy “progressive” curriculum, computers, Internet and so forth, the standard of our school education is lower now than back then.

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