Teachers and politics: Put it in writing, without hidden conditions, says NUTP

PETALING JAYA: Allowing teachers to actively participate in politics must come without any hidden conditions, says the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP).

Its secretary-general Wang Heng Suan also said this should also be stated clearly in writing.

“NUTP hopes that the new circular on this, when issued, does not contain any hidden conditions that will result in problems for teachers who will be active in politics,” Wang said in a statement issued by NUTP on Saturday (Jan 22).

He said that teachers welcomed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's announcement in Kota Baru, that all teachers under the Education Ministry nationwide would be allowed to get involved in politics, with immediate effect.

He added that a circular would be issued immediately.

Wang said that an earlier circular issued by the Education Ministry in 2010 allowed teachers under Grade DG41 and 48 to participate in politics, with consent from the ministry’s secretary-general.

However, he said this was withdrawn at the end of 2021 following a directive issued by the ministry’s secretary-general.

This ban, he said, included a prohibition against teachers from standing as election candidates or to hold political posts.

Wang also said for teachers to actively participate in politics should also be extended to those under Grade DG52 and including those on Grade DG54 time-based.

In MELAKA, education activist Datuk Ronald Gan said the decision to allow teachers to be involved in politics must be viewed from all aspects, including its impact on students’ academic performance.

“I am all out for freedom of speech, but we should look at the consequences and possibility of forming groups based on political affiliation as well as ethnicity,” he said on Saturday (Jan 22).

Gan, who is the Parents and Teacher Association (PTA) chairman of SMK Bukit Baru and SMK St Francis Institution here, said education should be distinct from politics.

“If a teacher is actively involved with a political organisation, his political ideals may influence his or her teaching.

“The teaching profession should be apolitical and not play a role in indoctrinating students,” he said.

Gan also claimed that in his long involvement in educational programs, students could be influenced by teachers to hate certain political leaders.

Meanwhile, Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said teachers have the right to join political parties.

He said teachers could acquire skills in a progressive political environment.

“Skills like good communication, social interaction and public speaking can be honed,” he said, adding that many retired teachers had become assemblymen and MPs.

However, Mak said teachers should practise restraint when it comes to political opinions in classrooms.

“There should be proper guidelines set by the Education Ministry,” he said.

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