I REFER to the letter “Not following circular” (The Star, Jan 8). The writer has pointed out many instances of school principals and headmasters/headmistresses not following the Education Ministry’s circulars to reasons best known to them.
Her letter is quite similar to earlier letters of complaints against principals who do not follow circulars on school uniform.
The writer has highlighted many cases where the school authorities failed to implement the ministry’s directives on the “soft landing” for teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).
Consequently, the parents, teachers and students are all stressed up unnecessarily.
Day in, day out, our Prime Minister and his deputy, who is the Education Minister are working tirelessly, stressing and emphasising the importance of “Service to the people” and “People first”, but unfortunately, some heads of schools choose to do otherwise.
I would like to share my experience having worked as a school principal for 20 years.
In my education service, I do not remember an incident when I had the audacity and courage to go against any circulars. So were many of my contemporaries who headed other schools.
As civil servants, we were repeatedly reminded to follow orders and carry out our duties and responsibilities as “Your obedient servant” (Yang menurut perintah).
One instance I still remember vividly though it happened two decades ago was at one of the principals’ annual conferences in Cameron Highlands, where the education director, did not mince his words warning us that we would be shown the door if we failed to follow his instructions to keep the school clean and to improve the SPM results.
That stern warning really sent shivers down our spines as there was pin-drop silence.
Thus, for any civil servant who defies the ministry’s directives, it is tantamount to insubordination and the consequence is serious disciplinary action.
Following the ministry’s directives is of paramount importance especially at this juncture when the Education Ministry will be tabling the much-awaited comprehensive and complete Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013–2025) for the cabinet’s approval next month.
Under the Blueprint, our education system and curriculum will be raised to an international level, bench-marking against the best high-performing education systems in the world.
Apparently, it is undeniable that the success or failure of the Blueprint depends to a large extent on all the heads of schools who are the implementors at the grassroots level, not forgetting of course our dear teachers, who will continue to work conscientiously and responsibly.
Therefore, I appeal to all heads of schools to strictly follow the ministry’s directives.
However, if you ever want to use your discretionary powers, use them wisely after considering all parties – the community and stakeholders. And prepare for the good, bad and ugly consequences.
THOMAS KOK Ipoh The STAR Online Opinion Wednesday January 9, 2013