I READ Hussaini Abdul Karim's letter "Teachers just want to teach" (NST, May 7) with much hope. The writer has hit the nail on the head by calling for the national education development planners to consider the importance of allowing teachers to teach only.
Surely, parents would be overjoyed if this is implemented. It means that teachers would either be in class teaching or preparing teaching materials, setting test papers and assessing students' daily work when they are not teaching.
This also means there may not be a need for children to go for private tuition classes as their teachers would have completed the syllabus effectively without having to attend meetings or organising events in school. Therefore, coming up with a foolproof plan that reassesses the role of teachers in schools is of utmost importance.
Why are there so many calls for teachers to just teach and not be involved in anything else? Can't they double up as teachers cum assistants to the school administrators? Well, in the good old days when there were not much administrative demands in schools, it could be possible.
However, today, when school administrators have to see to all sorts of demands from the state and district education offices, the school has to rely heavily on teachers to complete all the paperwork.
School administrators depend on teachers to key in examination analyses, plan progression charts, draw up strategic, tactical and operational plans, key in students particulars, including students' particulars online for examinations, collect state-level examination papers from other centres, invigilate examinations, attend meetings at outstation destinations, handle disciplinary problems, run co-curricular activities, prepare documentation for school activities, organise and carry out yearly school activities.
Only a brave principal, who is not looking for any form of promotion, will be able to cut all school events to simple planning and just focus on teaching and results.
When school administrators depend on teachers to do all these paperwork and planning for functions, what normally happens is the classes are left without teachers. How can it be possible for a teacher to be in class as well as decorate the school hall at the same time for a major event?
Most likely, the teacher would have to spend the whole day in school till way past school hours.
In a vicious cycle where the Education Ministry has big plans for schools and depend on feedback from the state and district level education departments, which in turn rely on schools for feedback, loads of paperwork is distributed to schools. At the end of the line is the teacher who has to complete all the paperwork for the school with no option but to sacrifice valuable teaching time.
The call for teachers to teach and not be involved in administrative and manual duties is long overdue. However, it is not a simple problem to solve as teachers are actively involved in all school matters and detaching them from other responsibilities will need a revamp in their official duties.
The school administrators depend on them heavily and it would be easier for the teacher to key in the data the administrators require urgently than to go to class and teach. The students are more forgiving than the administrators as they can catch up during tuition classes!
If serious consideration is to be given to this problem, then schools would require administrators who are capable of seeing to all administrative needs without calling upon teachers.
Students and parents are the stakeholders in every school and they should rightly be the VIPs for every school function. The practice of inviting other VIPs for school functions should be stopped as it is a major stress factor.
If only all these could be turned into reality, the teachers can peacefully teach without the distraction of continuous school functions and endless paperwork.
By V.T. Lingam, Kuala Lumpur
Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 16 May 2012