Urgent roundtable discussion on teacher shortages in vernacular schools needed, says Dr Wee

KUALA LUMPUR: An urgent roundtable discussion is needed to discuss the way forward involving the issue of teacher shortages in vernacular schools, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Dr Wee (BN-Ayer Hitam) said he viewed the matter seriously as there were some inconsistencies in the data given by the Education Ministry from month to month.

"Initially prior to the re-tagging exercise, the ministry said that there was a surplus of Chinese and Tamil language teachers.

"But after the re-tagging, the ministry noted that numbers have decreased.

"It is time for us to form a roundtable discussion and discuss this together.

"If there is any shortfall, we have to sit down and discuss how to solve this issue in order to protect the good image of the government," he said while debating the Budget 2024 for the Education Ministry in parliament on Monday (Nov 27).

On Nov 17, the Education Ministry said that it has reviewed the option list for Chinese language teachers in all schools.

Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying said data from the ministry’s system as of June 30 showed an excess of 2,376 Chinese language option teachers and an excess of 773 Tamil language option teachers.

But, in the other subjects, Chinese schools are short of 1,300 teachers, while Tamil schools need 155 teachers.

“The ministry’s statistical formula and teacher projections do not reflect the real situation. This has resulted in incorrect system data and Institute of Teacher Education admission quotas,” she said, adding that in the last three months, the re-tagging of Chinese and Tamil language teachers was conducted.

“As of Sept 29, the number of Chinese language option teachers at Chinese schools has been reduced from an excess of 2,376 to 540; while the number of Tamil language option teachers at Tamil schools has also been reduced from an excess of 773 to 308,” she said.

On a separate matter, Dr Wee also questioned the new conditions for the Dual Language Programme (DLP), that require a minimum of one full class per school learning the subjects in Bahasa Melayu (BM) as a "prerequisite" for DLP classes.

He also noted that the Parent Action Group for Education (Page) had raised similar concerns over the issue and asked the Education Ministry to explain such changes.

"What is the need to make it more strict on the conditions for the DLP programme?

"I do not see the justification to make it stricter?," he asked.

Dr Wee also asked if other premier schools such as the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and Tunku Kurshiah College were also required to follow the changes.

This requirement, seven years after the DLP programme started in 2016, has led to an overnight shift for some students, who are now required to study the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia instead of English.

It is understood that, prior to their enrolment in the DLP, parents were required to sign a consent form acknowledging the school's DLP status and give their approval for their children to be taught in English.

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