Where are all the male teachers?

James Gonzales - Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia

Recent reports that there will be no more male teachers in 20 years is of grave concern. In the 60s when I joined the teaching profession, we were fired with a sense of commitment, dedication and passion, and it was a vocation, but not anymore. As pointed out by my fellow teachers, now many enter the teaching profession only when they cannot find other jobs, a sad reflection on a profession that was once revered.

The current ratio of 72 females to 28 males for every 100 teachers is a disturbing trend for the country's education system. Why has the teaching profession become so unattractive to males? I had noticed this development more than 20 years ago and the prime reason is that, and with no offence to my female counterparts, most of the workload now falls on male teachers.

Male teachers, besides their routine work, are expected to undertake additional tasks such as heading uniformed units, sports activities, disciplinary duties and as examination controllers.

Most of the sports activities are delegated to male teachers, which among others include organising the school's annual sports meet and other sporting activities. I know of a dedicated male teacher who spent 30 years in the field of sports and only three years in the classroom.

Opportunities for promotion for teachers, especially graduate teachers are unfavourable, compared with their counterparts in the administrative and diplomatic service (PTD). Some graduate teachers have been on Grade D41 for more than 10 years and not been promoted, while their friends in the PTD are promoted  within five years. The situation has reached such a stage that male teachers lack the morale and many adopt a lackadaisical attitude to this once noble profession.

With the escalating cost of living, why should good candidates enter the teaching profession when there are other better paying professions? Even the dedicated teachers have voiced their concern on this issue and have said that they will discourage their children or anyone who is keen to become a teacher. Many male teachers have resigned and migrated to other countries.

In countries such as Singapore and Japan, the teaching profession is considered on par with other schemes of services and attracts the best and the brightest, not in Malaysia anymore. The heavy workload of many male teachers has also taken a toll on their health. Many now complain of stress and other ailments.

It is time that the government looks into the woes of the teaching profession and find ways of inspiring more males to enter the profession.

August 11, 2009

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