February 6th, 2019

Stop the unfair treatment of the aged workers

Speaking at the “Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities Conference” in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, urged the older generation to remain active and continue working, even after retirement.

As the average life expectancy of Malaysians is 75 years, therefore, a person needs savings to last between 15 and 20 years.

As it is now, the retirement age for Malaysian is 60 but still many are not ready to slow down at work and retire, plus the need to survive in the high cost of living currently.

But then, ageism is alive and well in Malaysia. A “too young” educator might be told he or she cannot be a professor, while a job candidate in his 50’s could hear the institute needs graduate “with a lot of energy and no bad habits,” while an employee in the 60’s might be counseled out of attending conference, just to allow him to “take it easy this month.”

Malaysia is still without the ‘Ageism Act or Law’ which may include no discrimination against employees based on their age, hiring, firing, work assignments, and promotions.

It’s possible for ageism to go completely unnoticed in the workplace. Some of what age discrimination might look like is:

Learning opportunities are automatically offered to younger employees, not older ones. This can include educational coursework, access to reimbursement for continuing education, professional or industry conference attendance, etc.

Being overlooked or passed over for challenging assignments. Most unfair share of unpleasant or tedious assignments given to older employees.

Being left out of important meetings or institution activities.

A spoken or unspoken assumption that you are not entitled to take time off for family commitments because you don’t have young kids at home.

Disturbing comments and remarks about age.

Being passed over for raises and promotions. Different raises and promotion decisions may indicate age-based discrimination, or they might be a reflection of individual performance.

You may think that you or your workplace is free of age discrimination. If you see signs of ageism that aren’t directed at you, don’t distance yourself by thinking that this could never happen to you.

Should you think that you are still good for the organization then its best that Invest in your continued growth and development.

Stay up to date and do readings on trends and best practices, and keep yourself alive by doing better every year.

Older workforce is a wealth of industry and institutional knowledge. Make yourself the wise man of the institution.

Don’t fall into a belief that your workplace “owes you” something for your past contributions.

Your own thinking can affect how you act.

There is no reason to falter in doing your best to represent your organization.

Just like your younger colleagues, keep your network active and your options open.

The best way to prevent you from falling victim to age discrimination is to stay on top of your career game.

Azizi Ahmad Malaysiakini Letters 6 February 2019

Don't let teachers feel they're drowning in paperwork

Of late, the Malaysian Minister of Education had called on ‘Treat teachers as human beings, not workhorsesand ‘no more clerical work for teachers’.

Teachers are skeptical on this issue and statements by the new Minister but then again it is not seen as true picture.

The workload of teachers is among the highest in the world. FILE PIC

Teachers are still complaining that they still have to do the never ending ‘workloads of paper works’.

The workload of teachers is among the highest in the world. FILE PIC

The plights of teachers may not be the same as the lecturers of educational institutions who are actually ‘DG grades teachers’ too.

It’s only in the name that they are called ‘lecturers’ but the grade status, the job and the workloads are the same as teachers.

As early as January, we are ‘instructed’ to be ready for the ISO and MQA work.

Pre-Audits had been scheduled as early as the year starts.

Now what is ‘auditing’? Definitely, documents and papers are involved. Isn’t that clerical work?

Documentations and paper works should be handled by the ‘administrations’ and the ‘academics’ to concentrate on ‘academia’. But it’s not happening.

The “audit culture” in educational institutions is causing anxiety and staff burnout without improving results; it may sounds as good news for schools but not in educational institutions.

What is the use of the accepted recommendations of the new report and the Ministry of Education pledging to ease pressures on teachers in Malaysia when ‘no changes’ are seen?

Everyone seems to make  believe that institutions need to be ISO certified , to be seen as ‘not only good but look good’; but most people know that ‘even if an office is ISO certified and people still know how bad the office is, then, can you believe that the certification can do any good?’

In nearly every audit where the standard was ‘implemented,’ it was the intent of the management team to look good and/or implement the system because of an outside influence.

People are amused by those who, just prior to an audit, scurry around fixing noncompliance issues and never really grasp that the existence of these non-conformities suggests a need for actual improvement.

Most of the auditing processes exist only on papers, people get involved running around like hell trying to catch up and prove some form of compliance to the auditing for the annual surveillance audit.

Then it’s back to the ordinary as usual.

These responses seem to indicate that a number of organizations and their leaders go for ISO certification for the wrong reasons or just getting a “wall certificate” for image purposes and for personal gains.

Teachers and/or educators have to waste time producing data on their pupils, with the recording, monitoring and analyzing of data being demanded by multiple sources, including local and central government, school inspectors and multiple tiers of the management.  What is the point of the report by ‘teacher workload advisory group’ then?

In some cases teachers are expected to write report on up to ten different elements of data for 30 or more children in a class, which the report described as an attempt to provide “spurious precision” in tracking pupil attainment.

The workload of teachers anywhere is among the highest in the world according to international surveys, and is often cited as a cause of experienced teachers under stress and a number leaving the profession.

The collection of data by schools has led to unsustainable workload and stress for many teachers and educators.

Widespread data practices don’t help pupil progress but do increase teacher workload.

None of us wants staff in the ‘academia’ or schools to feel like they are drowning in unnecessary and meaningless paperwork.

Azizi Ahmad Bakor Lambok New Straits Times Letters 7 February 2019