JUNE 14 — We realise that we live in a capitalistic world. The same goes for Malaysia. Where almost everything is judged according to its monetary value. If asked, not many will say they are doing or studying what they want because they love it. Instead, they are studying topics or subjects that can give them the assurance of a good life in the future. And in a capitalistic society, a good life is commonly measured according to its monetary value and worldly possessions.
I am a simple youth, studying to become a teacher as how both of my parents did in their time. However, if you were to ask me, how can we make teaching a dream job in Malaysia? The answer is simple. Raise teachers’ wages. Add up the monetary value of this profession and give extra bonus for teachers. If this is done, the reputation of this profession will rise too, thus making it the dream job of many students.
However, please do not misunderstand my statement. I do not mean to ask the government to raise the income of more than 300, 000 teachers in Malaysia. Even now the government is already spending most of its revenue on education. What I meant was to successfully raise the income and give bonus to good teachers. In short, favour meritocracy in the teaching profession and reward the teachers who are teaching wonderfully despite of their age.
The teaching profession has always favoured seniority. As time passes, teachers will definitely get more salary. The percentage to be promoted too will get higher as the teacher grows older. This, however, does not attract the youths, especially those who are motivated and willing to go the extra mile. What is the point of doing extra work when you know you are not reaping any benefit? Well, you still need to wait between three and five years before getting the ‘eligible’ status to move up on the income ladder.
Hence, the youths with potential are deterred by this situation. So, to prevent this, the teaching profession should favour meritocracy over seniority to provide good, motivated and passionate young teachers the chance to be promoted too. If this is the reality, then this profession will be like a competition. A competition between teachers to be better than others in their teaching style, thus producing more good and able teachers who are committed to be the best. This will also prevent the kind of teachers who prefer to be ‘content’ and ‘stagnant’ in doing their jobs from getting a higher status. Such teachers cannot and should not have a bright future in our education system.
Then the question arises, how do we know if the teacher is doing a wonderful job? Please do not misunderstand a wonderful job with a score of multiple As. If this is the case, then we are not in any way helping our education system. I have experienced incidences where teachers are rewarded according to their final class results. More As will get them more bonus.
Oftentimes, such a system will either neglect the less-capable students in the scoring exam or lead to a conspiracy between teachers and students. How? It is easy. The teacher can always provide the students with a glimpse of what is to come in their big examination. After all, the teachers themselves set the questions. This will provide leverage for teachers who are elected to become a member of the board who set the questions.
When I was in school, we had a few teachers who were members of such a board and their classes always scored good marks in examinations. So I realised measuring academic excellence should involve more than just a score of straight As.
Thus measuring whether a teacher has done a good job should not only include academic achievements but also students’ development of soft-skills, intercultural understanding and their value of the world we live in. So that we will realise our existence in this world is not to gather more worldly possessions but instead to appreciate our family, friends, the individuals who surround us, nature and also ourselves more.
In short, it is for us to make good of the life that we have.
This is not an easy topic to debate. It is a matter of the future of Malaysia. Almost everything lies in education. A good country must have an excellent education system to be good. This article is also not a criticism of senior teachers.
As taught by my parents, I have always respected the importance of senior teachers and their experience as well as the need for them to guide young teachers by sharing their invaluable lessons with us.
However, let our education system be one of a kind, where not only seniority is valued but meritocracy is also celebrated indistinctively.
* Mohd Faiez Mohd Ali reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
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