Cikgu Fadzli Mohd Saleh, Year Six Coordinator and BM teacher at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Utama Damansara (4), has always felt that teaching was his vocation. “I was the one educating and taking care of my younger siblings, because both my parents were working,” he explains. Even as a younger teacher in an urban area, Fadzli was still regarded highly. Teachers were assumed to be all-capable, so he was called in as a community exemplar whenever there were larger-scale events happening. “I thought that as I get older, and move to different places, that would change – but even 20 years later, the community’s respect for me has not dimmed; still I’m called ‘Teacher’ instead of by name.”
While appreciation for the teaching profession may have declined, Fadzli believes it depends on the individual teachers and how they play their role in the community. “If the teacher can fulfil the high expectations that the community places on him or her, then respect will be accorded.” Fadzli also feels that today’s students still respect teachers, if somewhat differently. “They think of teachers more as their peers, rather than as their elders. This is something each teacher has to be clever in handling. Parents also play an important role in determining how their children treat teachers,” he elaborates.
Furthermore, Fadzli believes that teaching is becoming a profession of choice. “From my experience in this school, many if not most teachers enter the profession because they wanted to. Some are using it as a stepping-stone towards other careers in the profession (such as becoming a lecturer or a subject-matter expert); others want to continue as school teachers.”
However, there is a need to make people perceive being a school teacher as seemingly reputable as private-sector jobs such as becoming a doctor or an architect. “More and more, teachers are being called upon to be educators as well. This also entails disciplining the students, so that they become proper members of society, and not just feeding them facts. Parents and the community at large should realise this.”
Cikgu Zakaria bin Muhammad, headmaster of the school, agrees. “Teachers play a critical role and carry an amazing responsibility; our efforts and achievements should be appreciated by the society. This is why those who want to become teachers must have a true vocation or calling. Without it, they will find it difficult to cope with the challenges we face on a daily basis.”
But it is all worth it in the end. “As a Muslim, the teaching profession is an extremely honourable one. Worldly riches cannot compare to the gratitude, blessings and well-wishes of my students because I have taught them well,” Fadzli notes.
Fadzli appreciates the MOE’s initiatives to develop more highlyskilled teachers and increase the appeal of the profession. “These initiatives – increasing the various District Education Offices’ (Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah, PPD) autonomy, the SISC+ programme, CPD and so forth – are extremely beneficial for teachers. Of course, we have to avail ourselves of all these opportunities to improve our own careers.”
Zakaria is amongst the many quality school headmasters who are in line to benefit under the New Deals initiative, which provides highcalibre school leaders and teachers with various incentives. He notes that such leaders usually demonstrate their capabilities through the high performance of the schools under their care, further incentivising principals and headmasters like him to improve their schools’ performance, which is also good for the schools.
“This adds to the motivation of the schools to improve themselves. This school, for instance, has shown continuous improvement in the UPSR results for three years running, and we’re confident we will reach HPS status in the next few years to come.”
Both Cikgu Fadzli and Headmaster Cikgu Zakaria take pride in the achievements of their students, and can recall many occasions where their students call out to them in the marketplace or other public areas. “The percentage of students who do this may not be very high, but having just one who remembers and appreciates what we did is enough for us because we have impacted the lives of our students,” Zakaria says.
Source: National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2015