PETALING JAYA, Feb 11 (Sin Chew Daily) – With the new academic year about to start in about a month’s time, the perennial problem of teacher shortage at the country’s Chinese primary schools have yet to be resolved.
From what Sin Chew Daily has learned, although SJKCs have tried to hire temporary teachers through their parent-teacher associations to address the problem, they have been officially notified not to do so.
According to a source, some of the schools in Kuala Lumpur have received the official notices from the district education departments that they could only apply to hire temporary teachers through the district education departments in accordance with the MySTEP system, not through the PTAs.
As a result, temporary teachers previously hired by the school boards have to be terminated, further aggravating the issue of teacher shortage.
The United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong) president Cheah Lek Aee confirmed this with Sin Chew Daily in a telephone interview, saying it had been a “self-saving solution” adopted by the schools to hire temporary teachers over the decades to resolve the teacher shortage problem.
He also said the MySTEP system involved a lot of complicated procedures while the schools had to face the problems of long waiting time and insufficient funds, making them unable to resolve the shortage problem within the shortest time possible, such that they had to resort to hire their own temporary teachers.
“As a result of the education department’s directive, these temporary teachers we hired have to be dismissed immediately, putting the school in a dilemma. In addition, due to the pandemic, some of the teachers may have to be quarantined and this further aggravates the issue of teacher shortage.”
He said if the education ministry is unable to send enough teachers to the schools, at least it should allow the schools to hire their own temporary teachers to fill the vacancies to ensure smooth operation of the schools, on top of the MySTEP system.
“This is actually very unfair to the school boards and PTAs. For the interest of the students, they have helped the education ministry address the issue of teacher shortage and by right the ministry should support their move.”
Cheah also said the ministry should provide financial assistance to help the schools to hire temporary teachers as well as delegate the powers of hiring temporary teachers to the respective schools, as was done in the past.
When approached by Sin Chew Daily, National Society of SJKC Headmasters president Chua Lay Kah said due to MySTEP’s complicated procedures, the applications by many schools could not get approved even after a long time.
He urged the authorities to simplify the procedures of MySTEP so that the issue of teacher shortage could be resolved in the shortest time possible.
Meanwhile, deputy education minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the directive issued by the state education department was to require schools hiring temporary teachers on their own to report and apply to the department, so that temporary teaching permits could be issued to these teachers.
He told Sin Chew Daily this is to ensure that all teachers, even though they are just temporary teachers, have gone through proper evaluation before they start teaching, adding that this is to protect he interest and safety of students.
He said for so many years temporary teachers hired by the schools have to be approved by the state education department so that they could be issued temporary teaching permits.
“There are about 400 teachers who will be sent to SJKCs nationwide in mid-February and early March, while the remaining 230 vacancies can be applied through MySTEP before the ministry’s next round of interviews.”