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Sunday, March 8, 2009

It’s actually as simple as A,B,C

I REFER to the article “Increasing Tolerance through education” in Star BizWeek. The subjects are obviously wide-ranging. Let me just address one issue that is relevant to both the economy and the education.

There are thousands of vacancies for teachers with appropriate qualifications in schools right now.

In Tamil schools, for example, there are at least 4,000 vacancies for those trained to teach English, Science and Maths in English and Malay. There are teachers in the 523 Tamil schools today who teach English, Science and Maths in English but less than 15% of them are properly trained. They are doing a horrible job.

Most of them cannot even converse in simple English, let alone write without making elementary mistakes.

The same is true for those teaching Malay. Two out of three Tamil school students fail UPSR and the system is helping to create some 7,000 candidates for gangsterism every year. This has been going on for 30 to 40 years with the rural-urban migration of Indians.

In the case of Sekolah Kebangsaan, SMK Taman Tasik near Kampung Pandan, for instance, it has two Form 6 Science classes. The teacher who taught Physical Chemistry retires this week and the class teacher has told the Upper 6 students they should learn the rest of the syllabus themselves.

The teacher who teaches Organic and Inorganic Chemistry is not trained to teach Chemistry. She is far from fluent in English. She teaches in Malay and then reads the English bits from the CD provided by the Education Ministry.

One cannot really blame her as she is not trained to do what she is doing. There are thousands of similar cases throughout the country.

The Chinese school in Bandar Utama had four or five vacancies at the beginning of this year. The school advertised and they got more than 100 applications. My business partner’s niece got a job as a teacher in the school. She is a qualified accountant who worked with one of the major banks for about five years before the birth of her first child.

Clearly, this scenario will give you some idea as to which school will do well and which won’t. Is it a surprise then that we have Indian gangsters running around with parangs and Mat Rempits going through life aimlessly?

There are thousands of graduates who are unemployed or underemployed. The clerk in our factory has a second class upper in Chemistry. She applied for the job without revealing that she is a graduate. When we found out, we promoted her to a chemist.

Why don’t we employ those with at least the right educational background to teach? There must be hundreds of Chemistry graduates in a similar position like her. There must be thousands of Malay graduates who are unemployed, so why don’t we take them in as teachers for Tamil schools? I’m sure this will help improve the standard of our education and many of our unemployed being gainfully employed and our economy will have a stimulus that will be very tangible.


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