His logic for placing the teaching profession above all others is simple. "How can the mediocre (teachers) produce the best (students)?"Hence Abdul Rahman advocates a radical reform such that the teaching profession should be recognised as a separate and distinct profession from other civil servants. And one can achieve that "[b]y selecting only the best and paying them well... Make it so difficult yet attractive for one to enter the profession". I've written on “Quality Teachers” before and I completely agree with the statement.
Abdul Rahman also rightly argued that reform is required because the nature and role of modern day teachers have changed significantly, and particularly in recent years.
Modern-day teachers, Abdul Rahman stresses, can no longer be reservoirs of knowledge in the mould of their predecessors because of the information age in which individuals, children in particular, absorb knowledge in leaps and bounds. Hence, the need for a "new orientation of the mind" among teachers...He also correctly noted that other successful countries “have invested enormously in attracting highly qualified candidates to join their teaching workforce which is responsible for nurturing their human capital.”
So, are our authorities listening? As written before, our retired civil servants seem to have found a voice in recent years, frequently advocating policy changes and reforms which are reasoned and pragmatic. And that's good, because the authorities are more likely to listen to them than the noisy bloggers like us :).
The reaction to date though, seems to be a tad mixed. Our Minister of Education had earlier talked about converting teacher training institutes into degree awarding colleges, which in my opinion is purely cosmetic in nature. However, on the same day the interview was published, our Minister of Education, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced that it will be more difficult to become a teacher from next year.
In an effort to upgrade the profession, the enrolment criteria for teaching courses in colleges and universities will be made more stringent... "We want teachers who are really committed."Our Prime Minister who shared the stage with the Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Husein, commented that the teaching profession should be a profession of choice.
"If it is not your main career choice, then you won't be teaching sincerely or with passion. Hence, your teaching methods will not be of quality."Hence from next year, teachers graduating from teacher training colleges would not be guaranteed jobs by the Government. Our Minister of Education claims that he will “not compromise” on this issue. Or will it be “same old, same old”?
As highlighted by Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Arshad, he has been “down the road before, Malaysia's education challenges are tough and constant policy pronouncements are easier made than delivered.” We need to be bold, we need to be brave. The authorities need to have the resolve to withstand short term pain and implement the policies they have advocated to benefit Malaysia in the medium long term.