AS a former teacher educator and one who is still very much interested in teacher development I sighed with relief when I read the report Primary schools to have graduate teachers from next year (The Star, Jan 27). It’s overdue.
The proposed 50-50 ratio could have been operational much earlier, alongside the graduate-conversion programme for secondary school teachers.
By this I mean that for every one (or two) secondary school applicants, there could have been one applicant from and for the primary school.
I say this because I’m fully aware that there were primary school teachers on the conversion programme, but upon graduation these teachers were absorbed into secondary schools.
In my interactions with the said group of teachers, I can vouch for many who would have preferred to return to serve in primary schools.
Their reasons are plain and sensible. Given their experience, they not only know well the KBSR syllabus and how to teach it, they are also in tune with the psychology of teaching young children; whereas at the secondary level they have to “start from scratch.”
Why the reluctance till now to place them on an appropriate salary scale even if they’re in primary schools? Could it be that they might be more qualified than school heads? Surely such a situation could be easily rectified.
It’s a pity that for so long now this misconception – that primary school teachers need not be highly qualified – has been allowed to permeate the basic thinking that structures our school system. Nor is it in keeping with the spirit of the numerous intangible demands of teaching as a vocation.
Given the essence and substance of “primary” as “of the first importance” and asas (not rendah), staffing these schools with the best of the crop should be our chief concern. In the long run this would reduce the number of “at risk” students who end up in secondary schools. It’s time to discard those myopic shades.