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Friday, 17 February 2017

Stop politicking education

Many leaders become faux heroes in the name of defending Sarawakians’ rights

I AM aghast at the reaction of politicians to the news that 209 temporary teachers will not be confirmed in their service as they failed an interview to gauge their suitability.

Politicians of all kinds jumped at the chance to be faux heroes claiming to defend the rights of Sarawakians and turn this into another round of state rights being eroded.

Even the Chief Minister’s Office jumped in and gave assurance that the services of interim teachers in Sarawak would not be terminated if they attended another interview.

The Chief Minister’s statement said, “All interim teacher posts in Sarawak will be filled by Sarawakians only and there is no issue of replacing them with non-Sarawakians.”

The statement added that the state government would take necessary steps until the 90:10 ratio of local teachers to teachers from other states was achieved.

A local daily reported on Feb 12 that more than 200 temporary teachers would have their services terminated effective on March 15.

The group’s spokesperson claimed that this batch of temporary teachers had already sat for their interviews in December last year.

As Women, Welfare and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah reportedly said, there were 988 vacancies for teachers which must be filled by March, thus there is no reason why the services of the 200-plus local temporary teachers should be terminated.

So failing in an interview is not a valid enough reason? Please tell that to all other employers in the world.

Maybe this is a reason why we have such a bloated civil service with the highest proportion of civil servants to our population in the world.

Opposition politicians also seem to propagate the view that the local temporary teachers are being terminated in Sarawak to be replaced by teachers from peninsular Malaysia and have called for the teachers to be confirmed in their posts.

Come on. Please stop the siege mentality.

Employment of teachers is an employment issue and must be handled in a professional way.

It must not be turned into a political issue.

Already our education policy has suffered because of it.

This episode confirms my fears that I first raised during the episode of Petronas terminating several Sarawakian employees some months ago – that in all this zeal of protecting state rights, we seem to compromise on quality.

As a Sarawakian union guy, I fully sympathise with those who are not selected.

However, as a union guy I must also look at the tens of thousands of other Sarawakian teachers who are qualified.

It would be insulting to their profession to have teachers who are not qualified among their ranks.

I am a parent and I am sure the last thing parents want is for our children to be taught by unqualified or, worse, those deemed not to have the required aptitude to be teachers!

Here I must applaud the Sarawak Bumiputra Teachers Union (KGBS) for taking a rational view on the service termination of the interim teachers despite the state Education Department needing 988 teachers to fill the current vacancies.

KGBS president Ahmad Malie said that there should be no compromise on the quality of teachers as those lacking in quality should not remain in service just to fill up the vacancies available.

“For KGBS, we do not want to sacrifice or compromise on the quality of teachers. We do not want teachers without quality to be continuously engaged to fill up the vacancies available and if this happens, it is most unfortunate that our education is tarnished with inappropriate action,” he was quoted as saying.

He also said the affected teachers might have the basic skills and knowledge in teaching but perhaps had other weaknesses and could not make the grade in the interview.

I believe that the decision of the Education Service Commission to terminate their service is made after due process.

I also believe that no one, Sarawakian or otherwise, should be taken as temporary teachers if they fail the interview and psychometric test.

On the same note, I am aghast at the claim by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim that PBDS Baru candidate Rapelson Richard Hamit’s decision to contest against Barisan Nasional candidate Puan Sri Jamilah Anu in the Tanjong Datu by-election showed ingratitude to the government just because he is a recipient of welfare aid due to his disability.

This again shows the patronising and condescending mentality of our politicians and the lack of respect for the rights and aspirations of ordinary citizens.

This is why I have been calling for our country to have a universal basic pension system that is based on need, free from the whims and fancies of myopic politicians.

Tags / Keywords: Government , Sarawak , Family Community , education , teachers

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