Education International
Education International

NUTP: more engagement, less confrontation

published 21 February 2013 updated 12 March 2013

"We want more engagement and less confrontation," says Lok Yim Pheng, the General Secretary of the National Union of the Teaching Profession of Malaysia (NUTP), the country's largest teachers' union.

She responds to the "Education Blueprint" , recently drawn up by the government, presenting ambitious plans to improve the quality of the schooling of five million children in Malaysia's primary and secondary schools.

Although Lok supports the governments ambitions, there are also concerns. "Teachers want more hours in the classroom and less paper work. Some of the plans include the use of new technologies, but in many schools those technologies are simply not available. NUTP also want a better career path for the Malaysian educators, as well as continuous professional development programs."

The "Education Blueprint" also includes measures to advance English language teaching in all government schools.The authorities have found that a fast growing number of Malaysians is no longer able to speak, read and write in the language of the country's former colonizer, Great Britain.

Thousands of teachers have started following courses of three to five hours a week to upgrade their skills. Malaysia is now also recruiting teachers from the UK, the United States and India.

"Multilingual skills will give our country competitive edge," said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a meeting with teachers and students on 20 February. NUTP supports the efforts of the authorities to improve Malaysians' language skills. It has suggested that in order to solve the problem retired English language teachers be invited to return to the classroom.

Malaysia has 430,000 teachers and spends 20% of its national budget on education. Primary and secondary education is free.