This is not to say that a teacher who worried that the primary school math curriculum was too advanced for the children was threatened with dismissal or demotion by the Department of Education.
Mohd Fadli Mohamed Salleh, a maths teacher at a primary school in Gombak, also expressed concern about heavy schoolbags and the large number of students in each class, which are long-standing grievances for many schoolchildren and parents.
The teacher took his criticism very seriously as he reportedly expressed his willingness to give up his career if no action is taken by the authorities. Certainly, such concerns for students and the education system do not deserve severe punishment.
And it is appalling that such criticism is only now attracting the attention of Acting Education Minister Radzi Jidin. This is after Fadli allegedly tried several times unsuccessfully to get the minister and some ministry officials to listen to his complaints and act on them.
The teacher claimed he had tried to go through supposedly proper channels to voice his grievances, but the relevant officials had made a stone wall.
This probably explains why he had resorted to venting his frustration on his Facebook, which then became a bone of contention for the ruling powers as it was seen as a violation of civil service procedures.
Ticking off the teacher instead of immediately addressing the issues he has raised is obviously a recipe for mismanagement, the impact of which would eventually be felt by teachers and their young students.
The ministry is expected to properly and efficiently manage an education system that would help shape our future generation, who is our vital human capital.
Any initiative or feedback aimed at improving the education system must be welcomed and nurtured as soon as possible to prevent the system from becoming fossilized and thus having difficulty adapting to changes.
This is why Fadli and concerned Malaysians are wondering why Radzi finally decided to look into the teacher’s complaints now, just before the general election when the minister had been alerted to the issues a long time ago.
Acting Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also threw himself into the controversy, expressing hope that the ministry would reach a “positive decision” at a recent disciplinary board meeting to decide Fadli’s fate.
In such a context, it seems that Radzi’s desire to meet Fadli, who has a large following on Facebook, at this stage smacks of political expediency and also because it may have been prompted by the outrage of the audience.
It would have been appropriate for the ministerial invitation to the meeting to be made in writing directly to Fadli, instead of posting it on the minister’s Facebook. This would have shown that the latter recognizes the seriousness and urgency of the matter.
And it also didn’t help that Radzi was quoted as saying, “If he has time, we can meet.” The Minister could have asserted himself by insisting that the teacher make time for the meeting.
Teachers deserve the kind of treatment from educational authorities that corresponds to the important role they play in society. – Malaysian insight