Be fair to teachers

THE assessment, appraisal and promotion process has always brought heartache, headache and misunderstanding among teachers.

When a teacher is given high marks, there is often much dissatisfaction and unhappiness among his or her peers. Though everyone congratulates each other and showers praise on those who do well, jealousy and anger brew among those who do not get the marks they feel they deserve. Though teacher assessments are private, there are many busybodies in school who would get to know about the marks and a cold war between the high performers and the others would ensue.

The discontented teachers would then barge into the headteacher or the Senior Assistant’s room and demand to know why they were not given higher marks while questioning the achievements of their fellow teachers.

Even a mere difference of five marks between two teachers can become a contentious issue because it is seen as a matter of prestige and honour.

My wife, a headteacher in a Tamil school in Rantau, Negri Sembilan, has been on the receiving end of such complaints – mostly from those who had scored 90 marks and above.

I was shocked beyond belief because during my time, we never had such high scores and we never challenged our superiors on the way they evaluated us.

To get 90 marks then was a real achievement and very few dared to dream of achieving such a feat. But today, in a small school of less than 30 teachers, there are many who get such high marks and yet they sulk over the achievement.

Most of them are in their early 30s and 40s, and are desperate to climb the ladder of success in whatever way they can.

Suspicion, distrust and jealousy set in and these teachers form groups to show their disapproval of the appraisal and promotion of their peers.

No matter how fair and valid the assessment instruments are in the awarding of the marks, there is always bound to be discontentment and dissatisfaction.

Out of frustration, these sour grapes would accuse the teachers who did well as “kaki bodek” (apple-polishers) or favourites of the headteachers.

The SBPA (Saraan Baru Perkhidmatan Awam) teacher appraisal scheme, which has been shelved, was dubbed Skim Bodek Pengawai Atas by many teachers, so there is a need to look into how we can measure competency fairly and effectively.

Judging teachers based on student performance in examinations will not paint a true picture.

Teachers in premier schools with good students can put in the least effort and get positive results because the students are naturally good.

Teachers in normal schools may have to “slave-drive” their students day and night yet still get poor results because the students are generally weak.

Many would say that teachers should be assessed and promoted based on their experience and length of service.

Though this is taken into account, there are other factors that need to be considered.

The competency, efficiency, proficiency, punctuality, aptitude, knowledge, experience, diligence and attitude of the teacher must be looked into during a promotion exercise.

Most of these are subjective in nature and cannot be objectively measured.

The education department must look into teacher appraisals and promotions both objectively and subjectively.

Headteachers need to have integrity and honesty in awarding marks and grades because it can affect the morale of the teachers.

The teachers themselves need to be professional and realistic in their demands for better marks. They must trust the appraisal system and know that they will be rewarded for their services and contributions.

Teachers fighting over marks makes them no different from the pupils they teach.

The one thing I have learnt in my 38 years of teaching service is that God rewards an honest worker, and you will be given what is due to you for your hard work and dedication.



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