PETALING JAYA: The working conditions for teachers will have to be improved first before the Education Ministry can implement extended school hours on a large scale.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said that a heavier workload and overcrowded classrooms meant that teachers were highly stressed now.
“The suggestion by the Perlis MB has merit, especially since he is concerned about students loitering.
“But the Government must also recognise that the situation in schools need to be improved before extended school hours can be implemented,” he said when asked to comment on the plan by Perlis to introduce extended schooling hours.
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had said that the state wanted to be the first to introduce longer schooling hours - from 7.45am to 4.30pm - in its primary and secondary schools.
He said schools could devote more time to teaching subjects and working parents would welcome the longer hours.
Siva said the proposal would only be workable in single-session schools.
Most of the estimated 9,000 schools in the country, especially those in towns, have morning and afternoon sessions.
Siva added that the existing class to teacher ratio of 1:1.5 had not improved in 20 years.
“Ideally it should be two teachers per class,” he said.
The ministry should also look at the problem of overcrowding in classrooms and the lack of classrooms in schools, he added.
“Student enrolment has been going up but there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of teachers,” he added.
A principal of a school here said that the current schooling hours of 7.30pm to 2pm was sufficient.
“As a single-session school, our schooling hours are about an hour longer than those with two sessions. This is sufficient.
“Now, students and teachers who choose to stay back can do so. Because it’s their choice, it’s more meaningful. But if school ends at 4.30pm it becomes a form of compulsion,” he said.
He cautioned, however, that parents and society should not transfer their responsibilities to teachers.
“Teachers now have a heavy workload. They are already exhausted as they are on their feet all the time and classrooms are not air-conditioned.”