PARENTS must be more involved in their children’s education. The country’s teacher unions also want students to strive harder to become good and responsible citizens.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan calls on parents and guardians to meet with teachers at least four times a year. This, he says, is important to make sure everything’s on track.
“Teachers are able to do their jobs well when they’re dealing with faces, and not just names.”
A good parent-teacher relationship is crucial in improving school quality and student outcome, says West Malaysia Malay Teachers Union, or Kesatuan Guru Melayu Malaysia Barat (KGMMB) president Jasni Md Kechik.
“Teachers must form smart partnerships with parents and guardians of their charges. Many parents today are experts skilled in various fields. They can really help in achieving the school’s aspirations. They should also make the effort to help raise funds for their children’s activities.”
He says parents must know and understand what’s going on in classrooms so that they can guide their children at home.
“Discuss how you can best assist teachers so if the student has a learning problem, we can address it together,” he says, adding that in an age where jobs are getting scarcer because of robots and machines, our young must be able to create opportunities for themselves instead of relying on the government or private sector for work.
He reminds teachers that they owe it to their students to give their best.
“Love and help students. Teach with sincerity and dedication. Don’t dwell on how much work you have on your plate.
“Understand the syllabus well so that what you deliver is accurate. Make sure your lessons are fun and meaningful,” he says, adding that teachers must know problem-solving techniques, as they have to impart these on students.
He says teachers themselves must take the initiative to have peer discussions, attend courses for self-improvement, and share their experiences.
Jasni also wishes to see youngsters that are not only knowledgeable, but have good values so that they can improve themselves, their families, society and the country.
“We live in a multiracial country so we must always respect each other to protect national unity and harmony. Be a citizen who stands up for the Constitution.”
Tan wants thinking and independent students who are respectful of teachers.
“We need students who can study on their own after guidance is given by the teachers.
“More importantly, we want students who are disciplined and respect their teachers so that they grow up as good citizens with strong Eastern values.”
With Pakatan Harapan marking its first anniversary this month, Tan hopes to see the Education Ministry coming up with clear guidelines on all issues related to teacher-parent-student responsibilities.
Citing examples, he says there is no clear standard operating procedure for handling sick or injured students, dealing with disciplinary issues, or teachers ferrying their charges to co-curricular or co-academic activities.
He’s also fighting for a more suitable language and curriculum to be used for deaf children.
“We must let them use their mother tongue – the Malaysian Sign Language (or known by its Malay acronym, BIM or Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia) – in schools.
“This is important to enhance their potential and make sure that they’re not left behind.”
The NUTP, he says, has been very vocal about reducing the workload of teachers so that they can focus on students.
“Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik has done his best but unfortunately, there are many little Napoleons who are still making teachers do irrelevant tasks. We hope to see an end to this soon.”
Jasni says the ministry must be brave in making changes to the education system so that the country is future-ready.
“But changes must be in line with Malaysian culture. In building good character, Islamic Studies and Moral Studies should be must-pass subjects if we are to cultivate integrity,” he adds. He suggests having more teachers in schools to reduce teaching time.
This, he says, will give teachers more time to prepare effective teaching plans and carry out their other responsibilities like managing the class and handling disciplinary problems.