Use institutes to upskill teachers, STU urges

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SIBU: The four teachers’ institutes, which cater for the different zones in the state and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) should be utilised for training, upgrading and upskilling of teachers.

Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) president Jisin Nyud made this suggestion when commenting on the call for the Education Ministry to expedite the issuance of authorisation to Sarawak to empower it to employ local graduates as teachers.

“Since we have all the four teachers’ institutes which cater for the different zones in Sarawak plus Unimas, we should utilise these teaching institutes and the university for training, upgrading and upskilling of teachers according to the fields that are needed such as graduates who have not got a diploma in teaching or even in-service training, while they are teaching.

“Apart from that, this upskilling and upgrading also can be done for the present interim teachers who are still very enthusiastic and passionate in teaching because we still need them,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Jisin recalled from the 1960’s until the 1990’s, most of the training for both lower secondary and primary school teachers in Sarawak were carried out in the four Teachers’ Training Colleges in Batu Lintang, Rejang, Samarahan and Miri and the majority of their intake comprised locals except for graduate teachers.

Last month, Women, Welfare and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah had disclosed that there were 988 vacancies for teachers in the state which the state wanted to be filled the latest by March.

She had said as education fell under the purview of the federal government, the state would need authorisation from the Education Ministry first before it could start recruiting.

Fatimah was reported to have said this at a press conference after chairing the Sarawak Education Consultancy Council (MPPS) meeting at a hotel in Kuching.

On this, Jisin said STU shared the same view as MPPS in asking the Education Ministry to expedite the issuance of authorisation to Sarawak to empower the state to employ local graduates as teachers.

This was due to the fact that Sarawak still faced a back-to-back shortage of teachers, not only due to the transfer of teachers out of Sarawak and within the state but also teachers retiring, he added.

Presently, Sarawak still needed teachers to fill in these vacancies badly and should the state get the necessary authorisation from the Education Ministry, then the state could start recruiting via programmes that had been outlined by the state.

Jisin reckoned should the recruitment be carried out by the state just like in the 1960’s, until 1990’s, this would also help ease the problems arising from senior teachers transferring out of the state.

Additionally, this would also help the Education Ministry to solve the problem of teachers who were reluctant to serve in rural and interior parts of Sarawak, he pointed out.

“No doubt the intention of the government to place teachers from other states in Sarawak is good in order to promote integration but the reality is only a few want to stay long especially when they are married.

“Another factor is the environment and location of the school is far different from their hometowns in West Malaysia, where they have more advanced facilities and infrastructure,” Jisin highlighted.

When it comes to the shortage of teachers due to retirements and transfers, the waiting period is very tedious as teachers in the same subject department in the school have to shoulder teaching more periods while waiting for the replacement teacher to arrive.

“Like it or not, teachers have to teach (additional periods) because the school has to make sure that their students are not left out in their studies.

“Until February this year, some schools have not received new teachers to fill in the vacancies or to replace the retired ones. If this continues, teachers especially those involved, will find it very heavy for them and it is very unfair.

“STU feels very sorry for those teachers who put in extra effort to teach extra periods just to cover the topics left by these teachers due to retirement, transfer or even confinement. Only God knows how they feel,” he lamented.

Source: The Borneo Post

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