I drafted this piece about a month ago but somehow it got lost in the cyber space.
Two days ago, the Education Minister spoke to the teachers and education officials at the PICC. The briefing was held to explain the the Government decision to do away with the PPSMI, It was a rather historic occasion for yours truly as it was the first time I was involved in the recordings of the whole proceeding with the production team. I never thought a simple event like this need to have 26 people in the production team. How ignorant can you be. So most of the time I was cocooned in the conti room watching the experts deftly manipulating the various machines not only to record the proceedings but also to ensure the projection on the two screens on both sides of the plenary hall went smoothly.
Having said that, I still managed to steal a moment or two to hear the briefing by the rt. Hon. Minister and The Director General of Education who gave a deeper analysis of the reasons and rationales behind the switch. Despite the general feelings of hostilities from the urban parents, the teachers understood the rationale fairly well. Being ever obedient civil servants, none of them stood up and say anything remotely against the reversal. So I think the high officials of the Ministry were fairly satisfied with the responses of the educators.
I was expecting a lot of fireworks during the Q and A. It was open and free. Anybody can say anything. The DG was game enough to field the questions. It was a rather tame and disappointing affair. Out of the seven or eights questions, I think five or six of them were about incentives that should or should not be given to teachers to encourage them to work more diligently. To be honest I was very disappointed. I would have thought they would ask questions such as on how to optimise the current scenarios in schools to forge ahead with the MBMMBI policy or at least they would seek assurance from the DG that no more flip flopping would happen in the near future or on the steps taken by the Government to pacify the raging urban parents. But alas, all they asked were the incentives… That goes to show the spirit of present day teachers are driven more by incentives than raw commitments. I believe, whatever it is as long as you are a civil servant by the name of a schoolteacher – you must teach no matter how trying are the conditions, simply because that are part of the occupational hazards that you have to face being a teacher. Why should you be paid incentives for doing something that you should be doing in the first place! Imagine the policemen asking for incentives to patrol a high crime areas, or the nurses asking for incentives to work in paediatric wards. All very absurd. As it is teachers are already pampered with all kinds of incentives. They should spend a few days at the hospital and see how the grade 29 nurses slog through their 8-hour shifts or even the grade 41 medical officers for that matter. More so with the current H1N1 pandemic. We did not hear nurses asking for incentives. They do not get notebook computers, they do not get computer labs or aircond libraries. The teaching fraternity should be thankful to ALLAH for what they already receiving instead of bickering over incentives. What are they doing about 58000 students still not able to read and write even after six years of schooling? Dr Ahmad Sipon, the former DG was vilified by the teachers when he said that it was a cardinal sin for teachers to allow children to go through eleven years of schooling and the students still end up illiterate.