More Chinese language teachers in secondary schools are getting closer to retirement while the number of fresh graduates joining the service is limited.
Sin Chew Daily reported that 48% of Chinese language teachers in secondary schools are retiring within ten years as they are in the age group of between 51 and 60, based on 2022 non-official data.
Those in the 41-50 age group make up 31% of existing Chinese language teachers, while those aged between 31 and 40 make up 15% of total.
Chinese language teachers who are 30 years old and below only constitute 6%.
With an average of 100 teachers retiring in a year, can Sultan Idris Education University, which trains Chinese language teachers for secondary schools, and the Education Faculty of Universiti Malaya train the same number of teachers each year?
Based on existing statistics, the number of students in the Chinese Language Programme and Education Faculty of Universiti Malaya majoring in Chinese Language is fewer than 100.
These graduates may not be teaching in secondary schools anyway.
Head of Chinese Language Programme at Sultan Idris Education University Dr. Khor Teik Huat said the programme trained a total of 409 graduates from 2008 to 2021, 85% of whom currently teaching at secondary schools.
Although the Ministry of Education is aware of the numbers, there is room to improve in hiring the graduates, he said.
Dr. Khor said the 2021 graduates had been assigned to teach, while the 2022 batch of graduates were going through interviews.
In other words, the process of assigning teachers is slow, he said.
Chinese language teachers are mainly trained in Sultan Idris Education University, but there is no co-ordination between the recruitment of students and the number of teachers required by the ministry.
Dr. Khor said Sultan Idris Education University recruited 97 students in 2008 and 89 students in 2009, since the Chinese Language Programme was started in 2008.
However, due to the oversupply of teachers, the Ministry of Education only needed 20 students from the Chinese Language Programme in 2010.
The number of students had since declined. Only 60 students were recruited in 2019, and the number has remained until today.
Dr. Khor said sharp decline in the number of Chinese students taking Form 6 was also another factor.
The number of students sitting for STPM plunged 24% in the last 10 years, from 53,687 in 2011 to only 40,926 in 2021.
In 2021, Chinese students made up 17% of all students sitting for STPM, or 7,106.
A total of 100 students turned up for the interview for the Chinese Language Programme this year, but only 52 were eligible, he said.
“We are aware that more than 1,000 Chinese language teachers will be retiring in 10 years and have tried to recruit more students.
“However, due to the limited resources, we are unable to recruit more at this moment,” he said.