THE sky is the limit, but how many of us aim to reach for the stars? The common rule is to inspire and motivate employees to achieve their maximum potential. But this rule of thumb seems to be terribly lacking in our schools.
We are aware that motivation factors differ among different individuals. Therefore, for any organisation to do well, employers have to inspire and motivate employees to perform better. Job satisfaction mainly comes from good working conditions, fair promotional prospects, respect, salary increments, bonuses, health benefits, passion and a whole range of little things that would motivate one to work harder.
Of late, a lot has been said about the teaching profession and the poor international ranking of our students. Have our children's interest in playing with electronic gadgets superseded their interest in reading and gaining knowledge? Or is it the case of passionate teachers struggling to teach due to unhappiness over changing promotional schemes and more focus on paperwork? Whatever the reasons may be, there seems to be an urgent need to address this problem.
When teachers are highly motivated and happy at their workplace, they will be inspired to teach better. Therefore, administrators have to be sensitive to the needs of teachers and practise fairness when dispelling duties. School heads who practise bullying tactics, favouritism, irrational burst of temper tantrums, poor negotiation skills and are people-unfriendly, should be weeded out through proper evaluation methods. In a learning institution, the head should be the biggest motivator to the teachers and students.
It has been a long-anticipated news when the education minister recently announced that teachers with higher degrees would receive better remunerations. They have waited patiently for more than ten years since such a proposal was first mooted.
Teachers with masters and doctorate degrees have been placed in the same pay scale as those who have bachelors degree for far too long. Naturally, their added qualification would make them more knowledgeable in their field. Children who are taught by a higher qualified teacher would most likely be encouraged to use and unfold higher-order thinking skills at a different level.
It would be foolish to question the ability of a well-learned person. For instance, no enterprising business organisation would place someone with an MBA in the same pay scale with someone with a BBA.
So, we should not question the ability of this group of teachers. Failing to reward them would only lead to a brain drain in our schools and a loss to our children.
Moreover, experienced teachers who have faithfully served for decades and been placed on time-based promotions should be given their due promotions. A sudden change in administrative procedures that require teachers who qualify for time-based increments to apply for such increments when advertisements are out is like robbing them of an earlier promise. Such austerity measures would only serve to create unhappiness in the teaching profession and probably a drop in teaching standards due to disappointment. We cannot afford to create such ill-feelings in a learning institution. Even the most passionate ones will feel the pinch one day.
We truly need motivated teachers to bring excitement into our classrooms. Respect our teachers and fairly reward them to make them feel appreciated. See to all their grouses and take serious action fast to solve their problems. Only motivation can ignite the fuel in them with sparks. Our students need motivated and happy teachers so as not to be left in the dark.
V.T. Lingam, Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times Opinion Letters to the Editor 03/01/2014