July 29th, 2012

Collegiality key to school success

I REFER to the comment by Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid in "When on the path of reform, go idea-hunting" (NST, July 6). His writings on whatever issues always fascinate me. The concluding statement mentioned "harmonious relations". This catchy phrase is significant and has a great impact on teachers' daily task, which is synonymous with professional harmony or collegiality among teachers.

Collegiality is critical to a school's success. Successful and effective schools are ones in which there is a high level of collegiality among the staff. Therefore, teachers are expected to work closely with other teachers and school administrators. Schools cannot be improved without strong collegial environments. The traditional scenario where teachers work independently and alone in their classrooms should be a thing of the past.

In layman's terms, collegiality refers to the cooperative and collaborative relationship among colleagues in a particular organisation. In the school context, collegiality is teachers' involvement with their colleagues on any level, be it intellectually, socially, emotionally or more importantly, professionally. A collegial environment is one in which teachers are able to work with other teachers and teachers work well with administrators.

However, there might be small groups of teachers who are at odds with their colleagues and are united in hatred towards someone in the school. This scenario would hinder collegiality in such a school. Therefore, every teacher must be contributing to collegiality instead of presenting barriers to achieving it.

Collegiality is important for teachers, as they cannot work in isolation in order to sustain a professional and social contact among them to improve school performance. If such an atmosphere prevails, teachers enjoy much stronger support from their colleagues. Such a condition will encourage staff to contribute new ideas, suggestions and opinions. Teachers are more effective in such a scenario. In schools, where group commitment is high, teachers can work together effectively and put their efforts collectively into creating and sustaining opportunities for school improvement and students' learning. This climate can also provide mental relaxation and a cheerful atmosphere, which is crucial in enhancing efficiency. Therefore, it is important for teachers to avoid isolation.

Collegiality among teachers is considered essential for a school's improvement and success. The most promising strategy for sustained and substantive improvement is developing the ability among school personnel to function as collegial communities. Collegial communities create an environment that supports high levels of innovation, enthusiasm and energy among teachers.

If teachers enjoy working with their colleagues, mutual respect and trust develops among them. As such, school heads must encourage some collegial activities in their schools as these activities create a sense of belonging. They provide opportunities to involve many individuals in solving complex educational problems.

For schools to function effectively, collegiality is important as it can affect the performance of teachers, coordination of curriculum and the overall health of schools. In cases where unpleasant and abrasive working relationships exist, productivity is affected, student learning can be impacted negatively, the curriculum may become disjointed and fractured as teachers promote different philosophies and expectations of students.

School improvement programmes through introduction and implementation of changes can only be implemented if a high degree of collegiality exists among the staff members. Thus, schools with strong collegial environments are better able to implement changes than schools with weak collegial environments.

Although teachers spend nearly every working minute with students and have few opportunities for interaction with their colleagues, this claim should be no longer accurate. Collegiality, interaction, and collaboration among teachers are a must as this affects teachers' morale, happiness, and satisfaction. Hence, collegial isolation should not be prevalent in schools though teaching itself is known for an "isolation of practice". Thus, the level of collegiality must be sustained and be made to prevail.

Teachers must interact with each other more than ever before. A school cannot realise its full potential without cooperative interaction among its teachers. A teacher may choose to transfer out of a school for similar reason -- the people they interact with, not the actual job. It is hard to be satisfied and happy in a teaching career when people do not get along. A successful school is built around teachers who work together as a team with high level of collegiality, collaboration, positive interaction, and cooperation. Teachers working together are more effective than a group of teachers working alone.

By Dr Dzulkiflee Abdullah, Bau, Sarawak Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 25 July 2012 

Democracy: Fine examples of inspiration

DURING the past month or so, certain events have, quite uniquely, brought to the fore what true democracy and statesmanship are all about -- the right of every person to freedom and equality; and, the commitment in a person, respected for integrity and impartial concern, who strives for that right of democracy for all.

On July 18, the world celebrated Nelson Mandela as he turned 94. Many South Africans, as they have done for several years, performed at least 67 minutes of public service on the birthday of their former president and Nobel Prize winner to honour his legacy, recalling the number of years he had led, and ultimately won, the struggle against apartheid.

Subjected to maltreatment of the worst kind and jailed for 27 years for his struggle to unite his nation, Mandela's "personal story is one of unbreakable will, unwavering integrity, and abiding humility", said United States President Barack Obama in a tribute.

Nelson Mandela, who turned 94 last week, is celebrated in South Africa and the world over for his struggles against apartheid. AFP pic

Mandela writes in his inspiring and motivating autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: "A man who takes away another man's freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else's freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity... For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Two other notable events, also during this past month, witnessed two sets of speeches that stood out.

The first was by Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy icon, who was bestowed the honour of being the first non-head of state and first foreign woman to address the British Parliament.

The Nobel laureate's speech contained no recrimination against her country's former military rulers who had jailed or placed her under house arrest for two decades for championing democracy.

With her natural charisma and eloquence, Suu Kyi spoke in a humble and yet firm tone, absolutely clear on what she wanted for her people.

She appealed for all the help that friendly nations could give her country so that her people could enjoy freedom, dignity and the right to decent lives.

The second was a trilogy of speeches by Egypt's first ever freely-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

He addressed a huge crowd at Tahrir Square in Cairo, followed by an inauguration speech at his swearing-in before the Supreme Constitutional Court, and another address at his installation ceremony at Cairo University.

Morsi now leads the Arab world's most populous nation in its first steps towards being a full democracy, though its path remains unpredictable and fragile.

As such, the seasoned Muslim Brotherhood leader, who kept his pre-election pledge to give up all religious and political party posts, had a firm yet conciliatory tone in his speeches.

He said he would exercise the authority of the presidency to uphold the rights, dignity and democracy for which the people had sacrificed so much, and that their sacrifices would not be in vain but would be duly rewarded.

Morsi displayed no ill-will towards the military that had persecuted and jailed him in the past for his stand on the people's rights. He instead focused on the different groups in the country and affirmed that their participation would be respected by his government.

All leaders and aspiring leaders should read the Mandela autobiography, while the speeches by Suu Kyi and Morsi are certainly worth listening to.

I'm sure these "nuggets" will inspire and motivate us towards unity of purpose and conduct for the greater good of ourselves and that of our fellow beings.

By Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 24 July 2012 

Suka perkara bermusim punca masalah Melayu bertimbun

Dua belas tahun sebelum penulis dilahirkan, Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, seorang tokoh Melayu selama lebih 20 tahun menjawat pelbagai jawatan dalam kepemimpinan negara pernah menyebut dalam salah satu ucapannya ketika merasmikan simposium di Universiti Malaya, “bangsa bangsa Melayu mempunyai pelbagai masalah yang diwarisi mereka kerana budaya ‘temperamental’.

Dalam ucapan perasmiannya itu, beliau menyebut bagaimana budaya ‘temperamental’ iaitu budaya yang suka kepada hal bermusim menjadi kemungkinan alasan Melayu gemar menjadi nelayan di pantai Timur kerana adanya musim tengkujuh tetapi tidak di pantai Barat yang cuaca hampir sama sepanjang tahun.

Selain itu, gemar menanam padi yang hanya menuntut mereka bekerja menuai dua kali setahun tetapi tidak menanam sayur yang harus dijaga pada setiap waktu dan Melayu juga meminati politik disebabkan ia datang lima tahun sekali tetapi tidak dalam bidang ekonomi yang harus diawasi sepanjang masa.

“Bangsa Melayu mempunyai pelbagai masalah yang diwarisi mereka kerana budaya temperamental”. - Sanusi Junid

Suka perkara yang bermusim ini juga menjadi sebab pelbagai masalah tidak dapat diselesaikan secara tuntas oleh orang Melayu. Belum pun satu masalah selesai, masalah lain datang dan masalah lama dilupakan saja. Masalah akhirnya bertimbun, diwarisi daripada generasi ke generasi.

Hari ini ketika hampir 30 tahun selepas Sanusi mengulas masalah itu, budaya temperamental ini masih diwarisi dan masalah yang timbul tidak banyak yang dapat diselesaikan.

Sebagai contoh, orang Melayu hari ini masih mudah dimainkan dengan masalah yang datang bermusim seperti fitnah rambang sehingga mereka lebih memilih untuk mempercayai tuduhan daripada proses mencari kebenaran dan kemudian melupakan saja cerita itu kerana mula dibelenggu dengan masalah lain yang sengaja ditimbulkan.

Orang Melayu juga memilih untuk bersatu hanya pada musim tertentu saja. Sejarah Malaysia membuktikan penyatuan orang Melayu awalnya terjadi apabila hak mereka tergugat ketika Malayan Union diperkenalkan, ketika Mei 1969, dan apabila mereka berasa terancam ketika orang lain mengusik keistimewaan yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan.

Di luar musim atau masalah yang dihadapi, mereka lebih memilih untuk berpuak. Tidak hairanlah walaupun satu bangsa, Melayu selalu saja saling iri hati, selalu menuduh satu orang lebih Melayu daripada yang lain bahkan tergamak menunjuk siapa masuk syurga dan siapa tidak berdasarkan puak mereka.

Sifat temperamental ini juga tidak mengenal usia. Pada generasi muda Melayu, mereka tidak bersatu di universiti dalam pembelajaran tetapi memilih untuk bersatu apabila ada orang mengaku ingin memansuhkan hutang mereka.

Sifat temperamental yang lebih umum dalam kalangan anak Melayu juga berkaitan cara mereka menelaah pembelajaran yang berbeza dengan anak bangsa lain. Anak Melayu gemar belajar mengikut musim, yakni belajar hanya apabila dekat dengan musim peperiksaan saja.

Profesor Diraja Ungku Aziz, seorang tokoh pendidikan negara dalam tulisannya mengulas bahawa kerana terperangkap secara tidak langsung daripada kesan jajahan Barat, bangsa Melayu susah bahkan tidak sanggup berubah dengan sendiri.

Perspektif mereka terhad, tidak suka menyiasat dan juga tidak suka memikirkan sesuatu secara mendalam. Bangsa Melayu hanya boleh berubah dengan kunci pendidikan dan kepemimpinan yang baik.

Memilih pemimpin yang tegas dan fokus berkerja dalam kalangan orang Melayu adalah penting jika benar-benar mahu menyelesaikan masalah yang ada.

Pemimpin terpilih mestilah pemimpin masyarakat yang berjiwa rakyat, tidak hanya pandai bercakap dan popular tetapi mereka yang benar-benar mahu menyelesaikan masalah Melayu.

Pemimpin ini juga mesti jujur dan bebas segala sifat ‘temperamental’ dalam memimpin, iaitu mampu memimpin dengan baik sepanjang masa, bukan pada waktu ingin menyelesai masalah peribadi atau menjelang pilihan raya atau pun mesyuarat pemilihan jawatan dalam organisasi mereka saja.

Rizal Abd Rahman Penulis ialah aktivis mahasiswa Malaysia di Jakarta
Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad, 29 Julai 2012, 9 Ramadhan 1433H

Perdana Menteri, bola sepak serta perkhidmatan awam

Kakitangan kerajaan perlu praktik idea baru

Kehebatan pertandingan bola Eropah sudah berlalu. Yang menang berjudi senang hati. Yang kalah makan hati. Peminat yang bersorak hingga ke subuh – seolah-olah berada dalam stadium – tidur dan kerjanya sudah kembali normal. Demam bola sudah kebah.

Namun bola, bukan lagi sekadar sukan mainan. Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak memetik teladan daripada pertandingan akhir EURO 2012. Beliau tidak hanya bersorak ketika menonton di kaca televisyen. Fikirannya ikut bermain di padang.

Semoga saranan Najib agar pegawai kerajaan mengamalkan pendekatan CPI dan PKI diberi perhatian serius oleh Ketua Setiausaha Negara, JPA dan ketua pengarah semua jabatan. Bola pun bukan lagi sekadar sukan suka-suka!

Ketika berucap pada perhimpunan bulanan Jabatan Perdana Menteri di Putrajaya 2 Julai lalu, pesannya: “Anggota perkhidmatan awam mestilah ‘cepat, tepat dan berintegriti – CTI’. Sifat ini perlu dilengkapi dengan ‘produktiviti, kreativiti dan inovasi – PKI’.

Tegas Najib, kalau kita ingat pada dua akronim ini, ia mencerminkan proses pembaharuan yang perlu dilakukan dalam perkhidmatan kerajaan, iaitu mencari idea baru yang lebih bernas dan tidak begitu konvensional kerana yang penting ialah keberhasilan. Maka, kita perlulah memperlihatkan perubahan yang inovatif.

Lalu Najib menyebut pertandingan antara Itali-Sepanyol sebagai teladan.

Katanya: “Sepanyol tidak meletakkan penyerang, sebaliknya menggunakan enam pemain tengah yang masing-masing boleh menjaringkan gol. Ini tidak konvensional dan format yang belum dicuba, namun akhirnya Sepanyol jadi juara.

“Justeru, seperti pasukan Sepanyol, kerajaan kita juga sentiasa mencari idea yang ada kelainan. Antara satu kejayaan kita menggunakan CPI dan PKI, ialah mewujudkan Pusat Transformasi Bandar (PTB) di Melaka, hanya mengambil masa enam minggu saja. PTB menandakan perubahan dalam perkhidmatan kerajaan untuk memberikan kepuasan dan keselesaan kepada rakyat.”

Bersediakah anggota perkhidmatan awam kita untuk membuat perubahan – mencuba cara kerja yang tidak konvensional – terutama pada peringkat pegawai atasan?

Dalam hubungan dengan perkhidmatan untuk rakyat, ada banyak contoh yang menunjukkan betapa bekunya pemikiran pegawai perkhidmatan awam kita.

Diceritakan dua contoh kecil, yang semua orang boleh faham. Di Kedah, 12 minit perjalanan dari bandar raya Alor Setar, ada berpuluh-puluh ekar tanah sawah yang sudah belasan tahun tidak dikerjakan kerana masalah pengairan. Tanah yang lokasinya cukup berharga ini jadi paya, dipenuhi menerung setinggi dada.

Apabila pemilik memohon untuk memajukan tanah ini, MADA menolak kerana ia termasuk dalam kawasan pertanian MADA. Pejabat Tanah pula menolak kerana syarat kegunaannya di atas geran tercatat ‘bendang’. Jawapan ini pantas sekali.

Maka dengan jawapan seperti itu, selesailah sudah tugas pegawai MADA dan pegawai Pejabat Tanah. Pemilik tanah dan kerajaan sama-sama tidak dapat hasil. Pemilik pun tidak bayar cukai. Kita mensesiakan anugerah Allah yang sangat berharga. Bukankah kita manusia, sebijak manapun, tak akan boleh mencipta tanah!

Di Pulau Langkawi, beberapa pemilik tanah memohon untuk memajukan tanah mereka yang terletak di pinggir jalan raya. Permohonan ditolak kerana semua tanah itu jenis kegunaannya ‘pertanian’ dan juga tidak termasuk dalam pelan pembangunan.

Selepas dirayu dan diprotes dalam akhbar, satu perjumpaan diadakan dengan pegawai pelbagai jabatan dan dipengerusikan seorang anggota EXCO. Seorang pemilik tanah bertanya: “YB, tanah saya tujuh ekar. Kebun getah tua. Selepas satu pesta perarakan laut yang meriah, Langkawi diisytiharkan Pulau Pelancongan. Adakah YB fikir patut saya kekalkan kebun getah tua tujuh ekar itu di pulau pelancongan ini?

“Yang kedua, bolehkah YB dan tuan pegawai sebut contoh, di manakah tanah milik Melayu yang termasuk dalam kawasan pembangunan? Semua tanah orang Melayu adalah petak kecil tanah pertanian dan terletak di luar bandar. Apa akan jadi kepada tanah ini? Maaflah. Kita kena keluar daripada kotak tradisi.”

Dipendekkan cerita, akhirnya permohonan untuk ubah syarat dan pecah lot di atas tanah di pulau pelancongan ini diluluskan. Namun mengambil masa hampir empat tahun, melalui jalan yang tersendat-sendat dan berliku-liku!

Semoga saranan Najib agar pegawai kerajaan mengamalkan pendekatan CPI dan PKI diberi perhatian serius oleh Ketua Setiausaha Negara, Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) dan ketua pengarah semua jabatan. Bola pun bukan lagi sekadar sukan suka-suka!

(Mohon respon anda. Pro mahu pun kontra)

Noor Azam Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 29 Julai 2012, 9 Ramadan 1433 H