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6:02pm 19/10/2022
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Not just about Cikgu Fadli
By:Sin Chew Daily

The ministry has the obligation to speed up reform and not to back off. Some of the criticisms might be harsh to the ears, but they are necessary to spearhead progress.

Politicians have started to “get active” after the parliament was dissolved last week.

Even though the SPR has yet to officially announce the nomination and polling dates, it cannot be denied that the general election remains the most heated topic in town these days. Everyone seems to get political!

Under such circumstances, news about an influencer/teacher has commanded tremendous attention in the Malaysian society.

Mohd Fadli Mohamed Salleh, a teacher at SK Gombak (1), highlighted six educational problems on social media and was subsequently served two warning letters from the education ministry.

The first letter was from the chairman of the ministry’s education services disciplinary board support group Yusran Shah Mohd Yusof who said he could be fired or demoted. The second letter was from Selangor education department director Rohayati Abd Hamed, demanding Cikgu Fadli to explain within 14 days.

Much furor aroused after the incident was exposed by Fadli on social media, with many leaving supportive comments for the teacher.

The incident even alerted the incumbent education minister Radzi Md Jidin who replied in the middle of the night that he was ready to meet up with the teacher.

Due to the intensity of public uproar over the incident, education director-general Pkharuddin Ghazali published a short video on the ministry’s Facebook to clarify that the ministry had no intention of sacking Cikgu Fadli.

According to the news released on Tuesday night, the ministry’s disciplinary board had decided not to take any action against the teacher.

Why has this incident created such a massive wave in the society? First of all, Mohd Fadli is a teacher with a sound reputation and is popular on social media. Next, the public are obviously unhappy with the education ministry’s reactions in this matter.

As Jiao Zong president Cheah Lek Aee has said, it is inappropriate for the education ministry to write to Mohd Fadli threatening to sack or demote him.

In addition, education is a major issue involving all Malaysians and the incident has therefore commanded quite a lot of attention among the public.

The incident has also brought to light the question whether the authorities have ever listened to the views of teachers through appropriate channels or mechanisms, and responded positively.

The authorities accused the teacher of not voicing his concerns through proper channels, and he refuted that even if he did, there wouldn’t be any response from the authorities, anyway.

Perhaps the education ministry, and other government departments as well, should adopt a more open-minded attitude to listen to the voices from all quarters and be receptive to constructive criticisms instead of shutting their ears out and feeling good about it!

The six problems raised by Cikgu Fadli are by no means baseless: the children’s schoolbags are too heavy; the curriculum is too tough and intensive; the number of pupils in each class is too large; too many subjects for the pupils to learn; not enough time for important subjects like math; and the presence of little Napoleons who have corrupted the country’s education system.

To be fair, there wasn’t any “shocking” revelation from the teacher. All the problems he highlighted have been around for some time!

For example, the issue of heavy schoolbags is nothing novel but the ministry had turned a deaf ear to it until several months ago, when it proposed a seven-pronged solution to lighten the pupils’ schoolbags. But again, the proposal has never been fully implemented.

As for too many students in a class, this is a very stale issue that has been around for as long as we could remember. The thing is, overcrowding will compromise the quality of the students’ learning and there is nothing wrong for Fadli to raise this problem openly.

As a professional teacher, Cikgu Fadli also said the curriculum has been too difficult and intensive, and not enough time is allocated for important subjects. The teacher has his reasons for raising these problems and it is imperative that the authorities look into them seriously instead of punishing the teacher.

While on the surface the conflict happens only between Fadli and the education ministry, it actually entails the much bigger questions of educational reform, the country’s destiny, as well as the students’ future.

The ministry has the obligation to speed up reform and not to back off. Some of the criticisms might be harsh to the ears, but they are necessary to spearhead progress.

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