MY wife is a secondary school teacher, serving to educate the young for more than two decades with full dedication. However, her passion withers as time goes on.
The reasons are:
> Uncomfortable working conditions. She has to share a table with another teacher in the afternoon session. Imagine an area of 90 x 24 ft accommodating more than 100 teachers without air-conditioning. Teachers are sweating not only in the classroom but also in the stuffy staff room. Today, even clerical staff enjoy better working conditions in offices.
> Meetings and co-curricular activities are held on most Saturdays, unlike for other civil servants. I work outstation and am only home during the weekends but weekends are no longer a family day because my poor wife and children have to go to school for activities.
In March, my wife had to go to school for a staff meeting and in-service training on the first Saturday, carry out uniformed society activities on the second Saturday, and attend marching competition on the fourth Saturday. In April, she had to attend the prize-giving day on the second Saturday, gotong-royong on the third Saturday and replacement for Hari Raya holiday on the fourth Saturday.
> Unnecessary clerical work such as filling forms, making data entries, issuing receipts for payment of school fees. Imagine she has to issue four handwritten receipts to each student in her class and record the details of each receipt in various forms.
> Only Maths and Science teachers have been provided with laptops. Teachers who teach other subjects have to buy their own. As there are limited computers in school, teachers at times have to fight to use the computers to meet deadlines.
> Attending courses. Many a time, my wife was directed to attend courses outstation at short notice simply because the letters arrived late at the school. How would you expect a teacher, being a mother and a wife, to just put aside her work in school and leave her family just to attend these courses?
This is only a sneak preview of my wife’s job. When we got married, I thought she would have time to devote to the family. I did not mind that she earns a meagre salary compared with those in the private sector. But it looks like the perception I had that my wife would have more time for the family no longer holds true as she has to spend such long hours in school doing paper work and giving extra classes to examination classes.
She has to stay up at night to mark exercises and test papers. While other civil servants get to enjoy their family days during weekends, why are teachers the exception?