Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Teachers' Pay

I was fortunately enough to have another question scheduled at No. 4 which was responded to orally by the Deputy Minister of Education II, Dato' Razali bin Ismail on Monday. This specific question relates to one of DAP's manifesto items, that is to call for a special class of teachers' civil service pay in order to attract the best talents to the education service sector.
[PETALING JAYA UTARA] minta Menteri Pelajaran menyatakan, apakah strategi kerajaan untuk menarik graduan-graduan yang lebih bermutu untuk berkhidmat dalam bidang pengajaran supaya anak-anak Malaysia akan mendapat mutu pengajaran yang lebih tinggi. Adakah gaji guru-guru akan ditingkatkan untuk tujuan tersebut.
You can read the full answer from the Deputy Minister here in the Hansard on page 10.

In brief, the Ministry has put in place some policies which are meant to raise the quality of teachers including better teacher selection system, better training, better teaching environment, better incentives and allowances as well as better promotion prospects.

He also noted that a new teacher with degree qualifications start off with RM1,695.85 with cap pay of RM4,645.85 per month, which doesn't yet include other incentives.

Basically, he didn't really comment on the need to raise the starting pay as well as pay scale of teachers, as a key policy decision to attract better talent to the force. Hence my subsequent supplementary question pressed the Deputy Minister on this point.
Terima kasih Tuan Yang di-Pertua, terima kasih Timbalan Menteri. Adakah Yang Berhormat Timbalan Menteri sedar di Singapura gaji permulaan bagi seorang siswazah... [Dewan riuh]

Sedarkah, hendak tahu Timbalan Menteri sedar soalan ini... [Dewan riuh]

Adakah Timbalan Menteri sedar bahawa di Singapura gaji permulaan adalah daripada 2,800 Dolar Singapura dan sekarang di Malaysia RM1,700 sahaja. Kalau bakal yang berbakat perguruan tidak ditarik masuk dalam bidang perguruan macam mana kualiti perguruan akan dipertingkatkan supaya pelajar-pelajar kita mendapat kualiti pelajaran yang lebih baik.

Saya harap Timbalan Menteri akan memberi pertimbangan kepada cadangan supaya gaji guru diberi kelas yang special, eksklusif supaya wang Petronas yang banyak pendapatan ini dapat kita gunakan dengan lebih berkesan. Terima kasih.
To this, the Deputy Minister responded
Kata orang lain padang lain belalangnya. Lain suasana, lain negara lain pula kaedah-kaedah perkiraannya itu... [Tepuk]
He continued with a repeat of the fact that teachers who performed well are given fast track treatment.

I was of course disappointed with the above answer for to say that policies in Singapore, which is a proven centre for educational excellence from primary to university levels should not be used as an example to emulate in one form or another in Malaysia.

The Ministry of Education must adopt the open minded attitude that while Singapore's clearly our competition, we should pick up what they have done right to achieve what they have today, in order to make ourselves better able to compete with them and the rest of the world.

While starting pay isn't the sole factor affecting the quality of teachers, it is certainly a very important starting point to attract the best talents to the force. The impact of quality education cannot be underestimated for it will make the difference as to whether our human capital is able to lift themselves to the next level, in the face of competition and globalisation, as opposed to stagnation, and continual decline relative to our neighbours and competitors.

Hence, it has always been argued here and in my Education blog, no expense must be spared, particularly in utilising temporal and extraordinary profits from our oil and gas industry to ensure that our productivity will increase sufficiently to replace the loss of income anticipated from the depletion of oil reserves in the years to come.
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