Education Department planning now to ensure 90% of teachers are from the state
IT’S encouraging to note that the state Education Department has started making plans towards realising the 90:10 ratio of local to peninsula teachers in Sarawak by 2018.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced during the Malaysia Day celebration in Kota Kinabalu that 90% of teaching positions in the state would be filled by locals within three years, as part of measures to empower Sarawak and Sabah.
On Monday, Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah told reporters that the department was collecting data and making projections on the number of teachers in the state, the subjects they teach, how many would be transferred back to the peninsula over the next three years and how they would be replaced by Sarawakian teachers.
She said teachers from the peninsula currently make up 21.9% of the teaching workforce in primary and secondary schools in Sarawak with 8,890 in total while Sarawakians comprise 76.3% or 30,956.
The rest (747, or 1.8%) are from Sabah and Labuan.
“We have three years to achieve the ratio. What is the mechanism for it? This is what we need to make projections and plan for.
“The data we have collected includes the teachers we have now and the options they are trained in. This is very important. A teacher trained in Bahasa Malaysia is supposed to teach Bahasa Malaysia, not Science, for example.
“The Education Department has looked at the options of those projected to be transferred out. We may have the numbers (to replace them) but what is also important is that there must be a match, so if a Bahasa Malaysia teacher is transferred, we need another Bahasa Malaysia teacher to replace him.”
Fatimah said the department was projecting that 15% of teachers from the peninsula would be transferred out of Sarawak next year, 20% in 2017 and 25% in 2018.
For secondary schools the percentage translates to 552, 736 and 920 teachers respectively while for primary schools the figures are 782, 1,042 and 1,303.
To replace them, the department has done an exercise to look at the supply of Sarawakian education graduates from universities (for secondary schools) and teacher education institutes (for primary schools).
“We are also looking at Sarawakian teachers serving elsewhere who are applying to be transferred back. Another source of supply will be education degree holders who have not been placed yet.
According to her, the department has come up with several proposals to achieve the ratio.
These include ensuring that teachers posted to fill positions in Sarawak meet the state’s needs in terms of subjects, giving priority to trained Sarawakian teachers to be posted in the state, recruiting more Sarawakians into teacher training programmes and reviving the school-based teacher training programme to train more teachers for primary schools.
At the same time, Fatimah stressed that quality must not be compromised to fulfil the ratio.
“Quality teachers will determine quality students.
“In our discussions about the recruitment of teachers, we have said the minimum is 5As and it cannot be less than that for Sarawak.
“To become a teacher you must also have the right aptitude and attitude. You have to love children and teaching.
“We must ensure that those we recruit are suitable for the teaching profession.”
The department deserves a thumbs-up for starting to plan for the transition towards the 90:10 ratio.
As Fatimah rightly pointed out, it’s not just about bringing in the numbers of Sarawakian teachers to replace their peninsula counterparts but also ensuring that they are posted to teach the right subjects.
Hopefully, by 2018 we will not only have fulfilled the 90% target but have the right teachers in the right places for the sake of our future generations.