Wooing teachers

Head of performing arts Ray Martin, 42.

AUSTRALIAN Ray Martin, 42, who has been teaching in the country since 2002, said one new international school was offering a whopping RM15,000 salary for its teachers.

He said expatriates currently working in Malaysia would probably be paid a lower allowance compared to those who are headhunted to come.

Admitting that some teachers are overpaid, he said some friends who were lured overseas to teach were later disappointed, as the “fat paychecks” did not last.

He noted that most international schools prefer expatriate teachers, which he described as “quite unfortunate”.

After teaching here for two years New Zealander Michelle Jane, 34, was approached by a few headhunters but money and location are her main priorities.

“There are not many female physical education teachers around so I can be a little more selective,” she said, adding that she would probably move for 30% to 50% more (money).

British science teacher Anoop Rai, 42, was approached to leave his current school.

“For me, it’s not just about the money.

“I wouldn’t be happy in a school with thousands of students,” he said.

Secondary school teacher S.L. Lim, 52, said government school teachers over the age of 40 draw between RM8,000 and RM9,000 per month, and would only move if offered significantly more as they would not want to lose their pension.

“The younger teachers earn about RM3,000 plus allowance, so they would probably be targeted to jump to an international school.

“The high salaries offered by international schools should be an eye opener for the Government to better reward teachers,” he said.

He said the high demand for teachers augur well for retirees who still want to contribute.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan agreed.

He welcomed higher salaries for teachers but reminded civil servants to consider their options carefully.

“International schools are willing to pay good money but failure to perform means you are out,” he said.

Taylor’s Schools president B.K. Gan said hiring expatriates was not a problem if the pay offered was regionally competitive.

“Local teachers are, however, a greater challenge to find. So, Taylor’s University trains locals to provide our schools with a steady stream of teachers,” he said.

The group employs 750 academic staff, most of whom are expatriates.

Admitting that staff retention is a challenge because the grass always looks greener on the other side, he said the group provides equitable packages and professional development opportunities.

UCSI International School (Subang Jaya) principal Alice Ong said salary increases have been steady in some areas and much higher in others.

A good teacher should be rewarded, she said, noting that salaries depend on factors like age, education level, experience, student evaluations and subjects taught.

She said globally, there’s a shortage of foreign teachers for maths and science subjects.

UCSI schools in Subang Jaya and Port Dickson employ a fully expatriate (teaching) staff.

Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS) ex-chairman and former Australian International School principal David Kilpatrick said recruiting qualified and experienced teachers is “not yet” a problem, adding that there’s a genuine willingness among international school heads to work together for mutual growth and development.

“As the number of international schools in Malaysia increases, we will see more and more teachers moving from one school to the next.

“This is a sign of the country’s education community maturing.”

AIMS chairman Andrew Dalton reminded its members to be ethical when recruiting teachers.

“In the last four years, the growth in demand for international schools has been phenomenal across Asia.

“Recruitment is very competitive and in the years to come, it will be even more difficult to source for good, qualified teachers.

“Employers need to be ethical when recruiting and teachers should think twice whether they want to accept offers that aren’t ethically made” he said.

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