EVEN with a sincere passion for teaching and the desire to give our students the best, teachers end up bowing to time constraints as well as social and administrative pressures.
“What society wants are students with straight A’s and spoon-feeding them in order to score top marks is encouraged by some quarters,” said teacher S. Shobana from Johor.
At the same time, she acknowledged the goverment’s endeavour to transform the national education system, and praised its efforts.
“I can’t wait to teach the new Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) pupils when they enter secondary school.
“I’m looking forward to the brand new curriculum for secondary schools in 2014 as well,” said Shobana.
The KSSR is said to be pupil-centric, with an emphasis on fun learning, critical and creative thinking, reasoning skills, communication and ICT literacy. It was implemented last year, starting with Year One pupils.
Besides tidying up school administrative functions and giving teachers more access to experiential learning opportunities, the most integral change was a change of perspectives, said Aisyah Syed Abdullah Al-Mashoor, a teacher from SMK Seri Bintang Selatan, Kuala Lumpur.
“Society’s outlook on the teaching profession is rather negative; they regard it as a second-grade job,” she said.
People who took up teaching used to be driven by passion but not anymore, lamented Aisyah, a product of the Excellent Students Programme (ESP) which began in 2002.
“Under the programme, 100 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students with outstanding SPM results signed individual contracts with the Education Ministry to become teachers every year,” said Aisyah.
“They were sponsored to study key subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics in renowned universities in the United Kingdom.
“During his tenure as Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad established the programme to support the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy.”
However, after Dr Mahathir stepped down, the programme did not seem to draw the same enthusiasm.
“I am from the programme’s first batch of graduates and I am devastated.
“We blew our chance to turn things around and reinvent the image of teachers,” said Aisyah.
“We had top SPM students signing up to become teachers, which in itself polished the profession’s image, and now we are overlooked ... it is such a waste of resources.”
Aisyah said she and her peers were sent overseas to pursue a degree in Science, not Education.
She added: “Our level of expertise dispels the view that teaching is a leftover job for underachievers and indecisive graduates.
“The ESP also helped sketch a different picture of what a teacher was, in order to break stereotypes.
“It portrayed teachers as professionals much like any executive in a private corporation.
“We have to change stereotypes and make sure students who want to become teachers know that teaching is a rewarding and beautiful career.”
Another young teacher, Lu Jia Yi, said students should be reassured that the teaching profession is a career worth pursuing.
“The irony is that society wants good teachers but tells smart students not to become teachers.
“Thankfully, not everyone thinks that way. I have a friend whose parents didn’t stop her from pursuing a career in teaching even though she could have chosen any other course after scoring straight A’s in her SPM,” said Lu.
By Aminuddin Mohsin