PETALING JAYA: Parents are expressing concern over the government’s decision to allow teachers to participate in political activities.
With teachers’ duties in classrooms already taxing and demanding, some parents are worried that allowing teachers that leeway may mean compromising their existing duties towards the school and schoolchildren.
They were responding to last Saturday’s announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that all teachers under the Education Ministry nationwide and Community Development Department (Kemas) were now allowed to get involved in politics.
SMK(P) Bukit Kuda Klang PTA president Saad Ismail said it is advisable for teachers to review their participation in politics, given that they are already shouldering many responsibilities.
“We cannot deny teachers their right to go about their lives and take part in politics but as humans, we are all prone to mood swings and stress.
“If a teacher’s political participation causes stress, the added pressure of work may affect how a teacher interacts with schoolchildren.
“When teachers are in a good mood and have clear, objective thinking, balancing political ventures and schoolwork should be fine,” he said.
SMJK Jit Sin’s PTA chairman Yap Kim Gui said it is crucial for the government to ensure teachers who are politically active do not bring politics into the classrooms.
“If we are talking about secondary schools, it may be fine as these youngsters may be mature enough to think,” said Yap.
“But in the case of primary schools, pupils are very young, vulnerable and malleable.
“Such situations need to be assessed and teachers need to critically differentiate their political ventures and their responsibilities at school.”
“It is just that in the case of politics, it is hard for people not to bring whatever beliefs and work they are involved in, into schools,” he added.
Administrator Hairil Azuin, 41, from Batu Pahat, Johor, said it was best for such teachers to step down if they want to be deeply involved in politics.
“There was a lecturer in my place who was actively involved in politics. She resigned because she could no longer concentrate on teaching.
“Personally, I do not support this decision to allow teachers to be actively involved in politics.
“I’m afraid that they will become agents of political parties and spread all sorts of political thinking into the minds of our children,” he said.
Homemaker Elle Kay, 41, from Alor Setar, Kedah, is also of the opinion that teachers and politics should be two separate entities because schools should be a neutral ground for children.
“School is a place to build character. If a teacher is involved in politics, he or she may influence the students’ with his or her views, and indoctrinate them in a certain way of thinking.
“Students may overreact towards certain issues or dismiss it as unimportant. Looking at our education system, I am not sure whether we have trained our students to have a growth mindset.”
However, businessman Afzam Adenan, 42, from Kuala Lumpur, sees no issue if a teacher wants to join politics, provided clear guidelines are given and observed.
“Secondly, what’s beyond working hours is personal. People should be free to do what they want so long as it doesn’t violate social and moral boundaries,” said Afzam, who nonetheless added that teachers should not indoctrinate students, and be clearly committed to their full-time work.