Schools to get teachers soon

Not easy: Teachers need to know more than just teaching. They also need to be trained to handle many students at the same time. — File photo

THIS October, more than 18,000 teaching vacancies will be filled as new hires are placed in schools in stages.

The recruitment exercise to hire teachers kicked off on Wednesday as part of the Education Ministry’s bid to tackle the critical shortage of teachers across four states.

While the move is welcomed, the ministry must ensure that those with the right qualifications are prioritised.

There are many with teaching qualifications who are still waiting for “the call” from the Education Services Commission (SPP).The ministry, however, has assured that vacancies will only be opened to those without teaching qualifications after the positions have been filled by those trained to be teachers.

To ensure the quality of candidates without a teaching background, the ministry is collaborating with the SPP and Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia (IPGM). IPGM rector Dr Rusmini Ku Ahmad said those without education degrees or specialisation in education would need to sit for a teacher qualification test online and pass an interview before being placed in one of the country’s 10,000 schools.

The subject they will teach, she told Astro Awani on June 22, would be based on an “option cluster” designed by the ministry to match the various fields of study taught in universities, to the school subjects.

She added that the candidates would also be sent for specialisation training during their service by enrolling them in the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the institute.

Last month, Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin announced that a special one-off initiative to recruit 18,702 grade DG41 education service officers for Sarawak, Sabah, Selangor and Johor, would be conducted from July 7.

Subjects with the highest number of teacher shortages are Bahasa Melayu, English, Islamic Education, History, Special Needs, Information and Communication Technology, and Design and Technology.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Md Amin Md Taff said there is a need to change the perception that teaching is a last resort when it comes to choosing a career.

“People think that a teacher’s job is only to teach but that is only 50% of what the role entails,” he said in an interview with RTM on June 25.

He said the other half includes managing students, each with their own unique learning styles and characteristics, and school matters, on top of preparing and marking exam papers.

Md Amin stressed that whoever takes up the challenge of becoming a teacher must be committed and ready to stick it out until retirement.

Pedagogical skills, he said, are important as a person may be an expert in their field but “transferring knowledge is a complicated process”.

He said despite receiving top quality training, some 2,000 UPSI graduates are still awaiting placement based on data collected over the past five years.

While commending the special one-off recruitment drive, UPSI senior lecturer Dr Chee Ken Nee said only those who are qualified and have undergone teacher training should be taken in.

“Pedagogical knowledge is crucial in producing lessons that are fruitful and effective and only those who have been trained in teacher training institutes and education faculties in universities know what’s expected of the job.

“If anybody can be a teacher, then the future of our young ones, and our education system, is worrying,” he wrote in an email to StarEdu.

He pointed out that the effects of this exercise would take a decade or two to show, and by then, it would be too late to rectify the situation.

The former science teacher and Global Teacher Award 2020 recipient pointed out that just like other professional field such as medicine and law, those in the teaching profession need to be equipped with the relevant knowledge to deliver significant positive impact.

“Education graduates have the interest, knowledge, skills, and code of ethics to achieve the goals set out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 and the government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030,” he said, adding that due consideration must be given in determining who should fill those vacancies.

“The cream of the crop with the relevant expertise should be prioritised to raise the quality of our Malaysian education system,” he added.

Meanwhile, Teach For Malaysia (TFM) has announced that it is ready to support the ministry by helping with the recruitment and training of the 18,702 teachers.

“We can provide this support beyond our existing programme, with no additional cost to the government,” it said in a statement on June 24.

The organisation has been actively recruiting and developing graduates and young professionals from diverse backgrounds to be part of its fellowship since 2012.The TFM Fellows are then sent to some of Malaysia’s high-need schools to teach for two years where they receive ongoing training and school-based coaching to ensure theory gets put into practice. They also study part-time for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the IPGM besides undergoing an intense pre-service training that covers topics such as pedagogical foundations and community engagement.

Its chief executive officer Chan Soon Seng described teaching as a highly skilled profession.

“Our experience shows that a rigorous selection process for deeply committed individuals, combined with two years of quality, structured, school-based training and support can enable non-education graduates to flourish into effective teachers and adaptive leaders.”

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