THE Government’s decision to implement five working days in a week was well received by civil servants in the country. The ultimate aim was to forge a closer family relationship in line with the Government’s initiative of creating a caring society.
The Public Service Department issued a circular on July 1, 2005 to all the ministries under its jurisdiction on this and teachers, who are part and parcel of the civil service, were also covered by it.
However, the Education director-general (D-G) in another circular dated July 20, 2005, appealed to teachers to carry out activities on Saturdays on a voluntary basis. This was done after taking into consideration programmes that had already been planned at the beginning of the year and also other mitigating factors. Teachers followed the appeal whole- heartedly, thinking that it was only a short-term hiccup.
However, this was not the case. Teachers are now being called on to carry out activities nearly every Saturday without fail, citing the D-G’s directive. The incredulous argument is that the NUTP has given its blessing and so teachers have no excuse, but to follow.
The introduction of j-QAF teachers in primary schools has created an additional burden to classroom teachers. The j-QAF teachers have to carry out a programme called Kem Bestari Solat four times in a year on a Saturday for each standard. If there are six, then the programme has to be carried out 24 Saturdays a year. The task is not only handled by the j-QAF teachers but normal classroom teachers are also compelled to help out.
Teachers have also to be in school on the second and fourth Saturdays to assist in co-curricular activities. They have got to attend in-service training at least seven times in a year, usually held on Saturdays.
In addition, teachers are expected to be in school on Saturdays on Sports Day, Prize Giving Day, PTA AGM and for other activities. In a nut shell, teachers have to sacrifice all their Saturdays because of some overzealous principals and, district and state education officials.
But the irony is that these officers have their Saturdays off with their families. The school principals get their Saturday breaks too.
Women make up a large percentage of teachers in schools. Most are young and have just started their own families. They have children and their salaries aren’t enough to hire maids. They rely on baby-sitters or nurseries.
Even then, these facilities are not available on Saturdays and they have to fend for themselves.
If the Government is true to its slogan of “People First”, it should find an amicable solution to the plight of these teachers.
We are also citizens of this country. Do not let them, be a disillusioned lot. We appeal to the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to help solve the woes of the teachers.
We have strong faith and high hopes that this matter will be resolved soon.