ACCORDING to a National Union of the Teaching Profession source, non-Malay teachers make up 10% to 15% of the nation's teaching profession.
The actual number cannot be released to the public, says the source, but if one goes to most national school today, one will see that less than 5% of the teaching body is made up of non-Malays, while some schools have 100% Malay teaching staff.
“It is about time that more non-Malay teachers are hired and principals are appointed to make schools more multi-racial,” he adds.
A senior assistant in a national school on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Suzanne Yeoh, feels that this is not a problem in the more urban areas.
“There are more non-Malay teachers in urban schools. It is a problem in rural areas where there are not many non-Malay teachers.”
She does, however, agree that there is a need to attract more non- Malays into teaching. This calls for changes in the conditions of the profession, including increasing salaries, easing administrative workload and providing other incentives.
Assoc Prof Dr Abdul Rashid Mohamed, acting dean of the School of Education Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia, also feels that reform is needed to attract more non-Malays to enter the profession.
“This is not a new problem though. In terms of the pay structure, it is not only the non-Malays who are not interested; young Malays are not interested either.”
He adds that the quality of teaching must be improved by enhancing the motivation and stature of the profession, and several aspects like recruitment, training, promotion opportunities, benefits and the work environment must be looked into.
Another problem, Yeoh notes, is the non-teaching demands placed on teachers, such as workshops and courses that teachers are required to attend.
“Courses are held at the expense of teaching hours. The public want us to upgrade teaching, but there has to be a better approach to enhance staff development.”