Once a cikgu, always a cikgu

Sunday June 24, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/6/24/education/11374692&sec=education

By JEANNETTE GOON
educate@thestar.com.my

RETIRED teachers are encouraged to be involved in the Government’s efforts to transform the country as part of the National Key Result Areas programme.

The experience that retired teachers possess is irreplaceable when it comes to providing feedback for revamping the nation’s education system, said Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

“Since education is lifelong, teachers are in charge of educating not only in the classroom or when on duty. They are still responsible, even after retirement. Their experience is very important,” he said in his address during an event to explain government policies and current issues to retired teachers.

“People in other professions do not have lifelong titles. But with teachers, even after retirement, people still call them cikgu,” he said, adding that teachers are the ones who help students achieve their potential.

Dr Mohd Puad (left) chatting with retired teachers at the Government Policy and Current Issue Explanation ceremony.

He said some retired teachers are still working to fill the void of English teachers.

“English is a very important subject so when there was a shortage of teachers, we contacted teachers from among the retirees,” said Dr Mohd Puad.

Thanaletchumy Ayanadian, 69, who was the headmaster at SJK(T) Jalan Fletcher, said that it is a good idea to continue using the skill of retired teachers.

“But they must get good teachers,” she said.

When asked if she would go back to teaching, she chuckled and said that due to her age, she would not go back to teaching. Instead, she could offer advice.

Her suggestions for the current education system include making sure that primary school pupils know their basics before allowing them to move up a year.

“If a Year One student is very behind in lessons, he or she should not be automatically promoted,” she said, adding that she had come across Year Six pupils who could not even write their names.

“Parents take for granted that their children will go on to the next level, so if it doesn’t happen automatically, parents will put in more effort to help them,” she said.

Newly-retired but still keen to contribute to the field of education, former headmaster of SJK(C) Kepong 1, Lee Kam Wah is involved with two educational organisations — the National Association of Chinese School Teachers and the Chung Hua Cultural Education Centre.

He told a recent education reform forum that the education system needs to be more open and flexible.

“We should change the system so that it can be used in any country.”

He added that in this global age, it is important to improve the standard of English among Malaysian students in the quest for knowledge and opportunities.

“Learning does not have anymore boundaries and children should learn from each other. Mutual learning is very important,” said Lee.

He added that there should be more emphasis on teaching moral values.

“We need to teach students things like honouring their parents, giving back to society and so on.”

The country’s education system is currently under review, which involves collecting feedback from all relevant parties in a series of dialogues.

Six of the public dialogue sessions, in which all interested parties are invited to air their views, have taken place in nine different states.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Mohd Puad also said that although the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) had been recognised and would be accepted for entry into local institutes of teacher education, certain criteria must be met.

Applicants have to pass English at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level, get a credit in Bahasa Melayu and obtain at least three credits in the UEC, he said.

He added that out of 355 applicants last year, 116 met the minimum requirements and were interviewed.

Out of those, only 14 were accepted for teacher training. This year, there were 198 applicants.