NUTP: Shortage of teachers a 30-year problem, govt must show willpower to resolve issue

The shortage of teachers in government schools nationwide is a 30-year problem that must be addressed once and for all.

While the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said the cause of the long-standing problem could be due to the lack of budget, the Education Ministry and the Public Service Department (PSD) must give an explanation on the matter.

Its secretary-general Fouzi Singon said NUTP plans to meet with the PSD and Education Ministry in the coming weeks to get a clearer picture.

Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying, on March 30, said the shortage of teachers was due to mandatory retirement, voluntary retirement, promotion, study leave, unpaid leave, resignation, and death.

She also said the ministry would hold a special recruitment of students to address the shortage.

“The problem was there when I started teaching in 1990. It still exists to this day,” said Fauzi.

“What the deputy minister (Lim) said was in general. We need a proper study and for the ministry to state how long they need to resolve the matter. Will it take another 10 years?”

He said the PSD also needs to explain if the problem of the shortage of teachers was due to a “projection” issue.

“We now have more than 425,000 teachers in the PSD system receiving emoluments. If the PSD were to hire more teachers, the Education Ministry needs to request more budget from the Finance Ministry,” he said.

“Is the ministry prepared to do so?”

Fouzi added that the shortage of teachers is happening in government schools including vernacular schools.

“Vernacular schools tend to hire teachers themselves if there is a shortage. But they do so using funds from their Parent-Teacher Associations. But it does not happen in other government schools,” he said.

Fouzi explained that the shortage of teachers also means the timetables would be “blocked”.

“This means rather than just one or two periods, the timetable is blocked for three periods straight for a particular subject,” Fauzi explained, saying this was one method taken by schools to address the problem of shortage of teachers.

“Although the shortage of teachers could be between one to 10 in a given school, there are days where up to 20 teachers are absent. They could be on sick leave, annual leave, attending meetings and courses or on maternity leave,” he added.

Lim had previously announced in the Dewan Rakyat that there was a shortage of teachers for Bahasa Melayu, English and Islamic Studies, Design and Technology, Visual Arts Education and History subjects.

“The problem of shortage of English teachers is another long-standing problem,” said Fouzi.

“Go to schools outside the city. There are no teachers to teach English.

“I don’t get it. Surely there are many university students graduating in TESL (Teaching English As A Second Language). Where are they?”