PROFESSION OF CHOICE
education. And, of course, education is helpless without its single largest driving force: teachers.
How do we ensure that we attract the best to take up the teaching profession? In the days when jobs were more plentiful, only those who liked teaching took up the profession.
After graduation, for example, they could take up more lucrative jobs. As graduates, it was not difficult to gain employment in the 1960s and the 1970s perhaps due to the fact that there were not many graduates then. We had only one local university then: Universiti Malaya.
It is different now. We now have 20 public universities and many more private ones, not to mention university colleges and the colleges.
It is inevitable that we are now producing more qualified graduates than jobs.
Unlike in the past, graduates today are no longer guaranteed jobs. So much so that many graduates have become unemployed.
Many have become so desperate that they would not mind getting any offer.
One profession, which is short in terms of numbers needed, is teaching.
That explains why whenever there is a teacher recruitment exercise, thousands apply. Most of the applicants are those who have not been able to secure jobs and have stayed unemployed for a long time.
The arithmetic suggests that it is possible that those who are not keen to be teachers end up being offered teaching.
Inevitably, due to the lack of interest, these teachers will not be dedicated to the job. They leave as soon as other job offers come their way.
The ones who would suffer the most are students, especially those pursuing science subjects.
Such arrangements may not be as damaging for non-science subjects, but not for science.
The teaching of science requires teachers who are trained in the subject.
Some countries even go to the extent of creating a service scheme to attract the best science students to become science teachers.
I know of one country that gets the best to join the science teaching profession by not only offering much better salary packages, but also a guaranteed opportunity to reach the highest academic ladder, to do master’s and PhD.
Notwithstanding, since teachers are crucial to the development of talents in the country, all subjects must attract the best to teach.
We should aim to make teaching a profession of choice.
DR AHMAD IBRAHIM,
Fellow, Academy of Sciences Malaysia
There has been an outpouring of adulation and praise for teachers.