Quick fix to solve teachers’ shortage

Fatimah (left) discussing the state education initiatives with Sarawak Education director Rakayah Madon.

KUCHING: The government is looking to fill up 988 teaching positions in the state with suitable graduates from various fields to overcome shortage of teachers.

Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said a letter was sent to the Education Ministry requesting to give the state the authority to fill up the vacancies with non-education major graduates from the open market.

“This is our quick fix to solve the shortage of teachers in Sarawak. If the Education Ministry allow us to hire teachers among graduates in the open market, we can immediately fill these vacancies.

“At the same time, the teachers will be sent to pursue a diploma in education as part of their in-service training. This is to ensure that we do not compromise the teaching quality,” she told reporters after chairing the Sarawak Education Consultative Council (MPPS) meeting here.

At the same time, the government is also looking to absorb teachers from the peninsula and Sabah to fill up 401 positions for religious primary school teachers across the state.

Fatimah said the move was a short-term solution while the state produced sufficient local teachers for religious schools.

She assured that the 401 vacancies, to be filled with non-Sarawakians, would not affect the state’s target of achieving a 90:10 ratio of Sarawak to peninsular Malaysia teachers here by next year.

“The 401 positions would only make up 1.1% of teachers in the state. At the moment, we have already achieved 88.9% local teachers in Sarawak and we are confident the target will be reached by next year,” Fatimah added.

Touching on generator sets used to power up 375 rural schools across the state that are not connected to the power grid, the state government has requested for a copy of the contract to be given to Sarawak Education Department. This was to enable the state to be more aware on the terms and conditions stipulated in the contract, particularly on the supply of fuel and maintenance agreement.

“We do not want an incident where the teaching process are disrupted due to the unavailability of power as this will affect the schools, teachers and students,” Fatimah said.

Beginning this year, a local company – Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd – has been given a three-year contract to maintain 778 generator sets in these schools.

MPPS would also request for 108 schools located within 5km from the power grid to be connected within the next two years.

On other initiatives to increase the education standard in the state, Fatimah said the government would enhance the Hipers Programme, including STEM (science, technical, engineering, mathematics) and TVET (technical, vocational, education and training) initiatives.

Other key areas included bridging the gap between rural and urban areas, improve education attainment of students in low performing schools as well increasing the number of high-performance schools and pre-schools.

“The state is committed to enhance technical courses and improve English proficiency among students,” she added.

One such step was to train 5,783 pre-school teachers to teach English.

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