CONTRACT teachers can plug the perennial shortage of educators but the Education Ministry must ensure that the quality of teaching and learning is not compromised.
Not much detail has been given on the ministry’s plan to hire teachers on contract, Universiti Utara Malaysia School of Education senior lecturer Dr Muhammad Noor Abdul Aziz said, but it is crucial that they are given proper training before entering schools.
“My only concern is the quality of teaching.
“If we are recruiting teachers as though we are simply filling another job vacancy and allowing anyone to enter the profession, we will be compromising on the quality of teaching.“We will be dealing with bigger problems if those hired as contract teachers do not take their jobs seriously,” he added.
On Nov 5, Education director-general Datuk Pkharuddin Ghazali said the ministry will appoint contract teachers to address the shortage of teachers in schools.
“We will appoint them on contract. We are improving the method of recruiting teachers for certain (teaching) options,” he told reporters after attending the Bicara Eksekutif Ketua Pengarah Pendidikan Malaysia programme in Alor Setar.On Nov 2, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said a total of 9,552 education graduates have been offered Grade DG41 teacher positions for this year’s intake.
Back in May, she told StarEdu that better projection for teacher training was needed.Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur and Johor, she said, were the top three states with the highest shortage, with Islamic Studies, English and Bahasa Melayu subjects in critical need of teachers.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the ministry must make sure that the contract teachers are given proper training so that they can be entrusted to teach instead of simply being assigned “babysitting” duties.
“Parents trust that the contract teachers would have had sufficient training and support before being placed in schools.
“There should be a comprehensive monitoring system to ensure teachers reach the desired standard.
“The better teachers should be absorbed into the system eventually,” she said, adding that students stand to benefit as contract teachers tend to be enthusiastic and eager to prove themselves.
“They would be energetic and raring to go as they are fresh out of university.
“Existing teachers have been stretched to the limit and can soon sigh with relief as having extra hands on deck means their workload is lightened,” she added.But Malaysia is not the only country facing a teacher shortage.
According to the Unesco report “Transforming education from within: Current trends in the status and development of teachers” released in 2022, some 69 million teachers need to be recruited globally by 2030 to address the global teacher shortage and improve teacher retention, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
UCSI University Faculty of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts Education Department head Assistant Prof Dr Zaida Mustafa said it is important to ensure that contract teachers are qualified and experienced to provide quality education to students.
The government, she said, must have a clear policy for the integration of contract teachers into full-time roles.“These teachers need job security and they must be entitled to the benefits full-time teachers get.
“Offering them professional development opportunities guarantees that contract teachers have the training and experience necessary to deliver high-quality instruction to students,” Zaida, who is also USCI’s Master of Education programme acting head, said.
Rewarding contract teachers, she added, for their achievements can help guarantee that they are dedicated to giving students a high-quality education.
“Ensuring job security and benefits for teachers hired under contract is crucial not only to safeguard their interests, but also the interest of their charges,” she added.
Contract positions, said Zaida, have many advantages over permanent teaching positions.
It is a misconception that contract work is “unstable”, she added.
Contract teachers, she said, can be hired for specific school subjects to effectively resolve teacher-subject-mismatch problems.
“And by bringing fresh viewpoints and life experiences to the classroom, contract teachers can contribute to the development of a more varied learning environment.
“Contract teachers also allows for staffing flexibility, which is in line with the replacement teacher policy which is in line the replacement teacher standard operating procedures (SOP) practiced in schools,”she said, adding that it is also cheaper to hire contract teachers as they tend to earn less than their peers in permanent positions.National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon said hiring teachers on contract can only be a temporary solution to address the teacher shortage.
If these teachers are kept on contract throughout their career and have to have their employment constantly renewed, it could cause them to become negligent towards their job.At the same time, he said, they would be getting older and potentially being hindered from seeking other jobs.
“This has unhealthy implications for the public sector,” he said, adding that this could go in the direction of the Contract Doctor Hartal problem.
Noor Azimah, however, does not think this would be a problem as the Education Ministry has sufficient funds for contract workers.
Welcoming aspiring educators onboard, senior teachers share how their new colleagues can secure a permanent position and contribute to the national education system.
For contract teachers, maintaining passion is key. Build a network within the school and education community, participate in extracurricular activities and demonstrate commitment to student success. Use the contract period as a platform to showcase your teaching abilities and make a lasting impact. Additionally, contract teachers should advocate for themselves by communicating with school administrators about their long-term goals and commitment to the institution. If you excel by publishing books, engaging in professional development courses, supporting students, and setting a commendable example, your dedication and passion can pave the way for a permanent position. – Suguniisvari Krishna Moorthi
Contract teachers who step in with the passion for becoming a permanent teacher can work towards obtaining a permanent certificate, which is an advanced-level certificate for teachers who possess a valid provisional certificate. Those who show constant improvement and dedication in their work might increase the likelihood of securing a permanent position in the education system. – Diviyasiri Thiru Kumaran
It may not be ideal to be hired on contract but make the most of the opportunity. Build your skillset to become a better teacher through real-world teaching experience. You learn more about being a good educator when you are in the classroom. – Mohd Azmin Mohd Nazrin
Plan for the future. While on contract, explore opportunities for professional growth and consider your long-term career goals. This can help you navigate your career path effectively, whether it involves staying in the same school or seeking new opportunities elsewhere. Remember, a contract position can be a stepping stone to more long-term opportunities, so use it as a platform to showcase your skills and dedication to teaching. – Jeya Bavani Jeyraman