Teachers' families torn apart: Case studies

  • Nation
  • Monday, 04 Mar 2019


Teacher P from Alor Setar was already married with two children when she started to do her post-degree teacher’s training certificate course (KPLI).

Her husband was then teaching in Kedah and she had requested to be posted to either Kedah or Perak. However, she was posted to Kuala Lumpur.

Six years and two more children later today, she is still in the same KL school.

Her husband now cares for their children, the youngest seven months old and the eldest 10.

“I thought it would only be for a year and then I would get transferred back to Kedah. For the past six years, I have been filling in the form annually. They keep telling me they need a commerce teacher here but I do not even teach commerce here. I teach History and Geography. I see younger teachers getting transferred out but I still remain,” she said.

P calls her husband and children several times daily, and she breaks down.

“I can’t quit as we have bought a house in Kedah and I will lose all my pension. I can’t hold my children. I teach other people’s children but my own children are neglected.

“I make the journey to Kedah every week, but their weekend is Friday and Saturday and I have to return on Sunday. I want to leave this job so badly. Please help me. MOE cannot keep doing this to us,” said P, sobbing uncontrollably.


P’s husband Q is a teacher in Kedah. He asked for a transfer to be together with his wife in Kedah or even Kuala Lumpur, but it never went through. He is taking care of their four children.

“I’ve been to the district and state education departments and Putra­jaya many times, but to no avail.

“I wake up at 5.30am and prepare the three older kids for school. While I do my chores, the older ones help to take care of the baby. Sometimes, my neighbours, who are also teachers, help out. They call my neighbours mama.

“I teach children and I can see there is a void in my daughters who hang on to anyone who shows them motherly affection.

“I can’t meet friends or do any outside activities. I also cannot volunteer for any extra activities in school and this has affected me professionally. My colleagues have been very understanding.

“I want to quit teaching and move to be near my wife so that my daughters can have a mother. Their mother is already losing it and I fear for her sanity,” he said.


Teacher S, who is from Terengganu, was posted to Kuala Lumpur in 2007. In 2009, she married a teacher from Terengganu who was also in KL. They had a child and he was posted back to Terengganu but she was not. The long-distance relationship took a toll on their marriage and they divorced.

She asked for a transfer to Terengganu but she has given up asking after 12 years.

“I have filled in the form 21 times, asking for a transfer. Then, last year, they had a redeployment. But I was moved to the very school next door. I am on anti-depressants. I have tried to jump off a building and I have even slashed my wrists. The doctors diagnosed me as suffering from major depression but the MOE keeps saying these are mere excuses despite letters from government hospitals.

“Once, I went to Putrajaya and told them I was a single mother. The officer told me ‘ibu tunggal atau ibu tunggul bukan alasan’ (single mother or wooden mother is no excuse),” said S.

S remarried five years ago to a driver based in Terengganu and as he is a state civil servant, he could not be transferred.

“My first child is with my parents in Terengganu and I only see him during the school holidays. I have another child, aged 5, now and this is the only reason I am staying alive,” said S.


Teacher Z, from Kelantan, said her marriage ended in a bitter divorce when she found out her husband took a second wife last year.

She was posted to Perak and she has been filling in the form for 10 years now.

“I still remember my ex-husband telling the judge that he wanted a divorce because he could not afford to travel to and fro Kelantan and Perak. I suffered a miscarriage when I tried to be the one to travel.

“We then decided that we would meet at Tanjung Malim transit and every fortnight, we did this. But it took a toll on our marriage. By the time both of us reached there, we would be so tired from driving.

“I have nothing left to fight for. I have gone to every department that I know, begging and crying to be transferred back to Kelantan but they tell me they need a Geography teacher here. I am not even teaching Geography here.

“My mother suffered a stroke in 2014 and my father is a padi farmer. Despite this, they have not allowed me to transfer. I know of no one inside who can help me and I can only continue to wait and fill the transfer form,” said Z. 

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