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Policies have been restrictive

I am writing in response to the article “Should teachers have autonomy?” (NST, Aug 3).

As a result of educational policies, the education system has for so long restricted the professionalism, authority, responsiveness, creativity and effectiveness of teachers.

While debates related to teacher autonomy vary from place to place, the professionalism of teachers is a central issue in the debates.

Many educators and groups, such as teachers’ unions or membership-based professional organisations for teachers, may argue that infringing on teacher autonomy undermines the professional status and expertise of teachers.

Malaysia’s curriculum development is centralised.

The examination system is also governed by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate (MES), which controls, coordinates and operates all examinations and school-based assessment, centralised examinations and assessment and oversea examinations and assessment, which are aligned with government policies and interests.

As the use of standardised tests still holds with MES, educators have increasingly expressed concern about the consequences of such policies, including the consideration of student test scores in the job performance evaluations of teachers, a highly controversial subject among educators and teachers’ unions.

Learning standards are concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a stage of their education, and to establish learning goals for students in kindergarten through secondary school.

Consequently, when schools “align” their academic programmes and curriculum with the learning goals described in the standards, some argue that teachers will have less “autonomy” in determining the knowledge, skills and content they teach.

The extent to which learning standards limit the autonomy of teachers remains a subject of discussion and debate, but many educators argue that standards do not impose significant limitations on the professional autonomy of teachers.

Discussions and debates about “teacher evaluation” and “teacher accountability” have grown more prominent and contentious in recent years.

Depending on the systems, methods and criteria used in the job performance evaluations of teachers, evaluation policies may affect teacher autonomy. If evaluation processes, expectations and requirements are more stringent or burdensome, they could influence the way teachers instruct students.

As such, some measures should be put up to ensure the proposal meets the need. AZIZI AHMAD, Kuala Lumpur

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