THE Education Ministry will have to release more details on the proposed Teachers Council before the public can make an assessment on its effectiveness.
With an estimated number in excess of 400,000, the teachers definitely need an organisation to monitor and control their activities and so the setting up of the council is long overdue.
According to Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad, it will be akin to those for other professional bodies such as the Bar Council for practising lawyers and the Malaysian Medical Council for doctors in public and private service.
So far, what is known about the Teachers Council is that all those wishing to be in the teaching profession will have to receive its approval before they are allowed to work in this field.
This applies to all those joining the profession in both the government and private schools, and for the time being only those in primary and secondary institutions will need to get this approval.
This condition will give the council a lot of clout as it can decide that only those with the necessary qualifications and training be allowed to teach in either the government or private schools.
This rule is going to affect those in private schools rather than the public ones as almost all the teachers in the national education system have been trained in teachers training colleges for three years or are graduates with the diploma of education from local universities.
In this way, the council can ensure that only the qualified ones be allowed to teach in private schools and naturally there will be worry that this authority may be misused.
Thus, indirectly, the council will be able to control the activities of the private schools by having a final say as to the teaching staff they can employ.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession would like the council to adopt the Declaration on Professional Ethics, which is a guide for teachers, education workers and unions in respecting the ethical standards required by the profession.
But making the teachers more professional is going to be rather difficult as there is no yardstick to measure it. However, the council must have disciplinary powers before it can really ensure a high professional and ethical standard from the teachers.
Parents tend to view the quality of teaching not only in terms of good results by the school but the disciplinary element is given equal importance. Otherwise, the school and its teachers will be deemed as not having done a proper job.