TEACHERS are taking a beating on social media in the wake of the leaked Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) Science and English papers scandal. Over the last few days, the number of individuals alleged to be involved have increased. Not all of them are teachers.
Several have been remanded to assist in police investigations and others have been arrested. And, considering that these were UPSR papers and not the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) or Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) papers, it is looking to be quite farcical, but no less disgraceful. It is natural for the public to take umbrage against teachers for they are a symbol of trust, arguably more important than that placed on, say, bank employees.
In teachers, the public expect exemplary behaviour so that the next generation may not only be of sound intellect, but also of impeccable character. Hence, this criminal debacle is difficult for Malaysians to bear and understandably so.
However, to tarnish every teacher with the same brush is a serious reflection of ill-considered criticism verging on mass hysteria. Malaysia has nearly half a million teachers in all, while those being held by the police numbered fewer than 10 at the moment. Now, what fraction of some half a million is this? It is fair to say that those apprehended, if found guilty, are criminals who landed teaching jobs by accident rather than design.Once upon a time, there was no doubting the teacher’s position in society. Looked up to as the beacon of hope for a better life, they were well-respected. Social mobility which they help facilitate has often produced an amnesiac society forgetting the invaluable services rendered by teachers.
The hundreds of thousand others are doing the best they can, facing classes of often 40 pupils at various stages of development. This is no mean feat, and parents know this very well. The small modern family of two children is now almost the norm, and still, some parents find it near impossible to keep them properly supervised 24-7. Yet, children are left at school for just half a day, five days a week and they come home changed: initially they learn how to read, write and count.
As they advance in years, schoolchildren become ever more educated with a well-rounded knowledge of the world and the necessary information to equip them for adulthood and all its attendant needs and challenges.
And despite all the complaints levelled at them, teachers plod on regardless. If they took offence to the never-ending critiques that put all blame on schools, like the unemployable graduates, for instance, Malaysia would suffer the consequences.
Schools, where the foundation for the country’s human capital is laid, must continue to function even when resources are tight. The hard evidence is there for all to see: public universities without the means to enrol every technically-qualified applicant. Teachers then, are the ones on whose backs the progress of this country was, is and will continue to be propelled. So, respect them!
NST Editorial 19 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:05 AM