Recently I attended a dinner with some friends whom I knew since my early days in politics. Among the group, two of them are teachers with one attached to Lai Meng Chinese School in downtown Kuala Lumpur while the other one with a Sekolah Kebangsaan in Klang. Both are Chinese language teacher.
Halfway through the dinner, the issue of lack of Chinese medium teachers was brought up. The one who taught at Lai Meng said that on average, there are about 70 students in one class. What? That must be crazy. How teachers can devotes her attention to so many students in one class? But she said what to do, we are lack of Chinese medium teachers and the demand for parents to send their kids to Chinese school is so high.
These days, even Malay and Indian parents are fighting for a place for their children in Chinese schools. Moreover, most Chinese would prefer to be in other profession that can bring home better pay than being a teacher. Even these two friends of mine admit that they have to give private tuition classes after school hours to earn extra to support their family.
Then one friend suddenly can’t contain his outburst and said “the problem of shortage of Chinese teacher in Chinese schools is not something that happened only yesterday. It has been going on for years. The education ministry should have their priority right by filling up Chinese teachers at Chinese schools first before sending them to Malay medium schools. No Chinese medium teachers shall be sent to Malay schools for as long as the problem in Chinese schools are not solved”
I agree with him on the first part that this is not a new problem but I disagree with him about not sending Chinese medium teachers to Malay schools. There are also a lot of Chinese parents who send their children to Malay medium schools and these children do learn Mandarin although it is not compulsory. There is also quite a number of Malay and Indian students in these schools that are interested in learning Mandarin. So, the matter of not sending Chinese medium teachers to these schools does not bode well with me.
Since 2009, Terengganu started to take in foreign teachers from United States to teach English in that state and it was soon followed by Pahang and Johor. If the Education Ministry has no problem with this plan, then why not take in teachers from China to teach in Chinese medium schools and solve the problem of lack of teachers once and for all. I believe there are plenty of teachers in China that are more than happy to teach in Malaysia
Moreover, lack of teachers is also one of the problems that cause the lack of Chinese medium schools in this country. Political parties as well as Dong Zhong and Jiao Zhong will point fingers at one another because of this issue. Then DAP and MCA will challenge one another to provide the number of new Chinese schools that each had set up in the state that they govern. The end of the day, MCA will always bear the grunt that it “sells out” the Chinese regarding Chines education. So, I suppose, if we can bring in teachers from China, MCA has one less problem to solve.
Moreover, we are no longer worry that they will bring in communist ideology through education to this country as was what happened previously when communism was at its height. Even the Prime Minister sent his son to study Mandarin in Beijing. So, will there be a problem with this idea? China today is more capitalist than any other country on earth although the ruling party of China still calls itself Chinese Communist Party. Now the onus is on the Education Minister to solve the problem of Chinese teachers.