The tuition debate continued in the NST which was blogged here in "More Tuition Tales". But for the very first time in the published press - it was cited that "teachers [are] not doing their part". One of the parents, En Hamidi Osman, a construction worker from Selayang actually described tuition classes as "a form of extortion"!
He claimed the teachers would perfunctorily go through their lessons during school periods, only to end the session with something amounting to a sales pitch: "If you want to learn more, then come to my tuition class after school."En Hamidi didn't think that his son's grades improved with the tuition classes either. "It seemed like he was not really getting any extra coaching, but only the rest of the class lesson," he said.
"This is what they told my son and his classmates and what it means is that they would have to pay extra money for what should have originally been taught in class." Hamidi said the teacher, and others like him at the same school, would charge RM25 per subject per student per month for two extra sessions a week which are conducted after school.
En Hamidi isn't the only one who is complaining. Apparently he is one of some 50 parents who have complained to the Umno Youth Public Complaints bureau about this issue. As the bureau head, Datuk Subahan Kamal rightly pointed out:
"What we are afraid of is a conflict of interest in these teachers. They teach the bare minimum in their class lessons. Then they say they will charge for extra lessons in the same subject. Should not these extra lessons also be taught in their class at school?"
"But what of those parents who cannot afford such extra classes? Does this mean that their children will be automatically left behind? And what is the purpose of paying annual school fees and taxes if their children can’t get the full lesson in class?"Tiara, a passionate advocate of 'alternative education', wrote recently on her blog, "EducateDeviate, Learning Without Boxes" about the similar situation faced by her in school.
...one of the administrators came to our class and tried to compare our tuition attendence to our mid-year grades. Grades were pretty similar (low) for everyone else though she picked on those who, like me, skipped the tuition classes. She then got to me and noticed that I was top of the class and had better grades then everyone. She looked at me and said that my grades would be so much higher - if I came to those tuition classes.The secretary general of the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP), Loke Yim Pheng have clarified that such practices were forbidden in a circular issued by the ministry some 10 years ago. But the circular probably isn't enough if there isn't active enforcement.
While he argued that parents should complain to the school authorities with regards to such cases, the matter is actually a lot more complex than that. Parents who lodge a complaint with the school, but is not successful with having actions taken against a particular teacher may just have their children incur the wrath of the teacher resulting poorer teaching and bias against them. It is also not inconceivable that the school authorities like the headmaster is sympathetic towards the teachers (for various possible reasons) which will result in a tougher time for the student whose parents have made a complaint.
The Ministry of Education needs to take the entire complaint exercise seriously and treat each complaint with the necessary respect and confidentiality. Malaysia, at this point of time, lacks a culture of transparency as well as one which protects whistle-blowers. Until such a time where both transparency as well as protection for whistle-blowers are in place, and the public trusts the system, parents and students are likely to have to suffer in silence and be at the mercy of mercenary and unscrupulous teachers.