I REFER to the letter "Let them focus on teaching" (NST, Nov 21) by S. Sundralingam of Ipoh. The issue of teachers' workload seems to never end. My observation is that there is evidence of teachers' excessive workload.
The non-teaching tasks and expanded role of teachers have deprived teachers of time to carry out their task as educators.
Consequently, teachers experience work overload, which may exhaust their enthusiasm and erode their commitment.
According to a study a few years back, reported in the media, teachers work an average of 66.24 hours per week, exceeding the maximum average working hours of 45 hours per week set by the International Labour of Organisation.
This is another justification for the need to reduce the workload.
Teachers also have to translate new policies, reforms and changes into action.
The current issue is the implementation of the school-based assessment system.
The success of such policies, changes and reforms depends on teachers.
Teachers are not against any change. They are all for it if the changes are in step with improvements in logistics and facilities in schools that are crucial to implement them.
The changes in our education system have resulted in the general intensification of teachers' working life. There is increased paperwork, more administrative meetings, preparations for external and internal inspections, and monitoring the implementation of new policies and other bureaucratic requirements that sap the teachers' energy and divert them from the core task of teaching.
As frontline workers in the education system, teachers have the major task of ensuring the implementation of these policies.
Although there is evidence that schools have been able to embrace the changes, some teachers may not readily jump on the bandwagon. But for those who have the passion for teaching, they will do more than expected.
Most teachers are allotted up to 25 teaching periods a week and start as early as 7am. Ringing of the school bell will mark the start and end of each period. In this regard, a large amount of the teachers' work is dictated by the tyranny of the clock.
Teachers also have to stay back in the afternoons for co-curricular activities, staff and panel meetings, and other activities. Even coffee breaks and lunchtime are slotted into the schedule of teaching.
Such a working scenario demands a high level of commitment, self-motivation and endurance.
Ideally, a teacher's workload must be relevant to education. A manageable one will enable teachers to complete their tasks without overworking.
This will minimise stress and help sustain commitment.
Grouses on teachers' workload should be given due consideration.
Hopefully, the implementation of the policy statements mentioned in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 will give teachers something to rejoice.
What have been deliberated are the nuts and bolts of the teaching profession. We may feel overburdened and harbour resentment on job-related issues, but teaching will always be regarded as a noble profession.
Teaching is a value-led profession, concerned with the betterment of human capital and society as a whole.
Most of us are teachers by choice, so. Let us stay motivated to discharge our duties, although some tasks may be beyond the call of our duties. Let us perform at the highest level of excellence as a habit. There are key performance motivators for us to accomplish our job meticulously and efficiently.
Teach our students with great tenacity. We need to be firm, but gentle. Choose our words and actions carefully.
Whatever our actions, they must not deprive our schoolchildren from getting the education they deserve.
Dr Dzulkiflee Abdullah, Bau, Sarawak New Straits Times Online Home News Opinion Letters-to-the-editor 27/11/2013