Saturday, February 10, 2007

'Pool of Doom'?

Ah, finally our Minister of Education recognises the fact that blueprints, however pretty, will be nothing more than just a blueprint, if it isn't implemented accordingly via our delivery system. After comments by various parties, including for director-generals of the Ministry of Education, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein released a warning to education officers and teachers that they will be left in a "pool of doom", if the new National Education Blueprint isn't implemented well.
“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.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Hisamudin should start to use the kris to prod the various officers into action!
At least it is better than the kris drama at the UMNO convention

Anonymous said...

Easy for him to say, as he holds the "keris" and the man from Tanjung Karang, but normally the goers will be the "opposition teachers" ...on thing for sure none of the State Education Directors will shiver as most of them are sure to leave for retirement and so do the Officers or Directors of other Divisions in the Ministry of Education. Another drama of Hishammudin.

Anonymous said...

The concept of 'pool of doom' is very civil servant. What are these people going to do in this 'pool of doom' even if the real goal is just to collect a paycheck?

One cannot argue against putting in more consequences and accountability to any delivery system.

The issue really is it enough AND will its implementation itself be screwed up? No point making threats that don't matter that much to people and especially if the threats has only a small probability of happening.

There is also this premise that the officers/teachers are just complacent and not committed enough. I no doubt there is this issue and a consequence system is the right thing to address it but frankly, I don't think its the only issue. As you point out, the issue is also 'dumping ground of unemployable graduate'.

Put it this way, the first thing the officers/teachers are going to say is what is Hissamuddin own 'pool of doom'? his multi-million dollar mansion and luxury cars with a cushy job in some GLCs?

My own sense is that before this 'pool of doom' even really start to work, there will be resistance, attempt to twart it, complains and Hissamuddin will likely be gone from ministry and the whole thing will go into the 'pool of doomed plans'.

Anonymous said...

Keris-muddin memang cakap tak serupa bikin. He should be the one in the "pool of doom". He memalukan Tun Hussein Onn and Dato Onn Jaafar as far as the truth is concerned. While the two previous heavy weight politicians fought for the concept of "Malaysian," he is doing his family name a big disservice by working towards the opposite. Shame on him.

Anonymous said...

You can wait till cows come home,
they never deliver,
it is been 50 years.
I have already have Plan B, for
bring up my next generations.

Anonymous said...

those upstairs people at the helm are only keen on making a fast one on 30%.
unless there is a change in administration, or else, the same, on and on.

Anonymous said...

I personally disagree with the notion of leaving the wrong-doers in the "pool of doom". Instead of a disciplinary act, it would mean a pleasurable ride until retirement for many; Worse still, most of the teachers are under the pension scheme, which means, those in the “pool of doom” will also be fed till they ...

Anyway, if one examines the public service code of practice “Perintah Am”, we could easily understand what it means by “difficult to fire someone”…even getting rid of a book from the stock is a painful process. The system is old, there’s a need of reform…people who comment are many, committed people who work are few…what more could we ask for…Public service has seldom been an attraction to people who believe they’re capable in making a change…leaving only a small number of such capable people having to juggle the implementation of plans and policies among the majority who opted for those jobs due to failure in getting a decent job in the private sector…How do we then achieve success?

However, if teachers or other public service employment is on a contract based of 2 to 3 years, in which, if they do not perform as required, they will not be allowed to renew their contracts. Pension scheme could be attached to certain conditions of a minimum number of years of service. It seems difficult but feasible, what that is necessary is an open-mind to explore alternatives and make a significant paradigm shift in the current public service employment scheme.

Some countries have applied this procedure and have significantly safeguards the quality of work by their public service employees. No doubt, teachers have to face with immense pressures having to perform well enough to continue their contracts. Teachers who are capable will not have to be in fear of not having their contracts renewed. If unfairness occurred, teachers could be given access to grievance procedures. As such, the heads of departments will be under pressures as well in terms of decisions made on their employees.

Anonymous said...

This is all for the wrong reason! It happens because of the poor culture. Here is a group of people (mostly based on race) who are pampered, given everything without working for it, and untouchable, so no surprise regarding poor productivity. What next, more re-training, like the unmotivated, unqualified university graduates we dish out? Also it goes all the way to the top, no accountability, no transparency. The good football players make an impact the moment they are on the field. The poor ones are just wasting everybody's time.
Change the whole mentality, then we talk about productivity.


Anonymous said...

re above posting

enuff already with the race issue. if cannot contribute ideas, no need to say anything.