TEACHER education in Malaysia is set for a major transformation as announced in the 2017 Budget, which has identified 11 of the existing 27 Teacher Education Institutes (TEI) as facilities to train not only new trainee teachers, but also for future primary school teachers.
The remaining 16 institutes will be converted into vocational, polytechnic colleges and training centres for in-service teachers, with the Raja Melewar TEI in Seremban and the Tengku Bainun TEI in Penang earmarked as Permata Pintar Centres.
According to the Teacher Education Division, the transformation of the institutes is due to the low intake of trainees for the past few years which resulted from the oversupply of teachers in the country – a situation that leaves many of the institutes underutilised.
Unlike in the past, teacher trainees who graduate today have to wait for a few months for a posting in school.
This transformation exercise has left about 5,000 lecturers in the 27 institutes in a state of anxiety over their status.
Most of the lecturers would not be able to fit into the vocational, polytechnic and Permata Pintar colleges, which in any case would have their own lecturers and expertise.
Though the conversion exercise will be carried out in phases over the years, many lecturers in the institutes are still worried.
Some fear that they may be posted to other states based on their qualifications.
There are some who are anxious of the possibility they may be transferred to state education departments or district education offices.
Lecturers with doctorates could be retained in the 11 TEIs to train future trainees, while those without a Master’s degree but with adequate seniority in service, could be posted to primary or secondary schools.
Of course, some senior and experienced lecturers have opted to retire early.
These are undoubtedly challenging times for the lecturers, who have to accept the fact that change is inevitable.
Lecturers have to rise to the occasion and serve where and when the need arises. After all, there are many doctorate and master’s holders already teaching in schools.
Lecturers or teacher trainers should be receptive to change, and be able to work wherever they are posted to.
Most lecturers had their beginnings as teachers in schools, so being posted back to schools should not pose a problem to them.
I have another four months before I retire, and I will gladly go back to school if I am ever posted to one.
Hopefully, these lecturers will be able to embrace change and have positive outcomes.
When the going gets tough, the tough will have to get going! Samuel Yesuiah The STAR Home News Education December 4, 2016