“There is no place in our delivery system for those who don’t perform. If there is a need for us to create a pool to place teachers and officers who don’t perform, we will do so,” he said.I've written earlier on how there has to be penalties for officers to be "punished" for taking actions detrimental to national interests. The main reason for that is really to deter other wayward officers from doing the same. Hence it is a good that that the Minister has come up with this statement. The question then is, is it sufficient to work?
There are two "critical success factors" for such a policy. Firstly, the punishment must be a sufficient deterrent to other potential wrong-doers from committing the same offences. Secondly, there must be clear guidelines on what constitute such offences against national unity and national education interests.
So is placing officers and teachers in a "pool of doom", as damning as it is made out to be?
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin stated that "[i]n our system, it is hard to fire someone. If I can’t sack them, they can stay in the pool until they retire." Now, will such a statement send fears down those who are prone to deviate from the objectives of our national education system?
First of all, it's an outright admission that there is practically nothing the Government can do to "remove" him from service.
Next he assured them that they can stay gainfully and economically employed, even if they are found guilty of breaching the interest of the nation. From this angle, the pool can hardly be labelled one of "gloom", isn't it? These guys will be able to live out the rest of their careers without the necessary responsibilities, and yet continue to collect their paychecks. I'm not even sure if that isn't actually an incentive for these officers and teachers to ensure that the blueprint doesn't get implemented!
This issue is clearly compounded and perpetuated by the fact that the teaching and civil service have become the dumping ground for the less employable graduates being churned out by our education system.
The second critical success factor is to have a clear and distinct guideline for these teachers and officers as to what is "can do", and what is "out of bounds". I've taken some time to read through the National Education Blueprint, particularly the key chapter on "Strengthening National Schools". Kian Ming has written recently on "national schools and national unity", and I plan to write one on "strengthening national schools".
But suffice it for me to say for now, that there are major gaps in the plan to strengthen national schools, despite national unity being one of the key thrusts of the blueprint. There was no mention of the critical issue of principals converting national into religious school wannabes. There was no mention of the need to strictly enforce a no-quota policy in national schools - after all, the top bumiputera students would have been sent to MRSM boarding schools.
Without such clear guidelines for the education officers and teachers, it can hardly be expected that they will necessarily implement policies in the interest of national unity and education system?
It is great that the Minister of Education recognises the need to whip his department officers and the teaching profession into shape. However, the "whipping" mechanism certainly still needs plenty of work to be truly effective.