Restoring and upholding the dignity of Malaysia’s educators

Syazuin Sazali


Syazuin Sazali
30 Nov 2022 05:29pm
Students during Merdeka celebration. (Photo: Sinar Archive)
Students during Merdeka celebration. (Photo: Sinar Archive)

Everyone knows that Malaysia’s education system is a very controversial issue in Malaysia.

This is because the education system has an enormous power on the nation’s cultural growth, sustenance of the nation’s labour pool and the peoples’ critical thinking skills.

It also plays a major influence on national unity.

Primary education is compulsory in Malaysia. This should by now be followed by secondary studies. Optionally, next in line are those who decide to pursue tertiary or higher learning.

At times, it is like the process of giving birth to a child. After you are done with one, questions pop, “When shall you have another?” “What will you be doing next?” especially if you are in the education industry itself.

All certificates lining up like small kids queuing along the class corridor waiting to perform during Sports Day.

Just think about it.

Parents or managements alike are worried if you take a rest from studying formally, you will be demotivated to continue or have your plates full with other responsibilities and commitments in due time.

Nevertheless, you must enrich yourself with skills by implementing and applying all that theoretical knowledge you have first learnt. If not, what is the point of knowing but not doing, right? Out of sight, out of mind.

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First, let us recognise that education is foundational.

The first thing that you must know about teaching as a profession is that teaching is about inspiring and motivating students to realize and exceed their potential.

The greatest teachers of all time have devoted their lives to inspiring and empowering their students to achieve great things and be good human beings.

We are all indeed educators. And I mean the word “educators” in the broadest sense possible.

We are now teachers, researchers, policymakers, counsellors, administrators, leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, parents, caretakers, partners and learners who gives and shares our knowledge and values to others. We are people who care about how we will grow and thrive — as individuals, as communities, as a nation.

This is all to say that education can be an amazing thing, but not all lives up to the ideals. We cannot just pretend that society is fully meeting the goals of providing a high-quality education to all.

There are persistent inequities and stubborn gaps in opportunity and success at all levels — from the lack of access to high-quality early childhood education; to segregation and insufficient support and consistency in classrooms; to uneven graduation rates. Stated another way, strong, positive educational experiences are not certain.

People in general strive for certainty. Uncertainty seems to be stressful in the same unconscious manner as anger and fear. Certainty makes one feel secure and safe about the future, but is there such thing that is certain?

My vision of education is different. I see a system where students and educators share and acquire knowledge in learning spaces where critical thinking, exploration, respect, and community are key.

These will boost students' awareness about their role as citizens, and train them to solve real-world problems instead of leading towards socio-emotional upheavals. Training towards becoming a better and educated citizen is crucial for both educators and learners.

An educator from Selangor, who would only like to be known as Alia mentioned, “Educators in my institution has an average of 56 training hours per year to complete”.

“As students struggle with language proficiency, remedial classes conducted can slightly manage students who are struggling to comprehend lessons due to high number of learners per class,” the 37-year-old lecturer concluded.

That is what we do as educators: support learners to succeed by guiding them, creating tools, and leading the systems that will inspire their achievement.

Yes, the impact of a skilled educator is limitless.

However, mundane issues regarding large number of students per class is forever a hot topic. When will this stop?

It is also worth noted that there are so many successful stories and people spearheading entrepreneurial and non-profit programmes under the umbrella of an educator.

These educators are currently spreading their magic and service through their academy, care centres, recruitment and training agencies, support groups or initiatives to make the nation a better place.

Hopefully, the education system will stop moving back and forth due to political changes. It is about time to give a chance for a richer alternative vision of schools as thriving centres of learning rooted in a culture of care and respect.

Stop overburdening educators with unrelated tasks.

A culture where educators who are willing to keep going, gain more experience, and prepare for the future of education should be encouraged; not tedious and burnout culture which leads to early retirement.

Educators will then be able to embrace their roles in whatever form that takes. What have we learnt from previous studies and the long-time opposition leader as newly appointed Malaysia’s 10th prime minister?

Key factors of an educator which may influence students’ learning patterns are subject matter knowledge, applicable skills, and personality.

The 3Ps of life is applicable indeed; utmost persistence, perseverance, and patience to achieve our desired results and outcome.

What about pay? Perhaps a subject for another day.

SYAZUIN SAZALI is a Subject Matter Expert in soft skills. She aims to continuously advocate for progressive growth in education. Linkedin & Instagram: @syazuinsazali, Email: [email protected]

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.