Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin Jawong today urged the federal government to give the state full autonomy over education, saying the planned mass recruitment drive for teachers would not be able to adequately address the shortage of educators in Sarawak.
Manyin, who was a teacher for 25 years before entering politics, acknowledged the importance of national integration but said autonomy in this area would allow Sarawak to produce its own teachers who would understand the cultural diversity in the community.
“We are fully aware of all the issues and problems pertaining to education in Sarawak.
“We can produce our own teachers provided that we are given the authority and better still given full autonomy over education,” he said in a statement.
Education Minister Radzi Jidin recently said that a mass recruitment drive would be held to engage some 18,000 educators to address the shortage of teachers in the country.
He said it was also to ensure a sufficient number of teachers, especially in Sarawak and Sabah.
But Manyin said it would be difficult for new teachers, especially those not from the state, to adjust to the environment in Sarawak, citing the poor condition of school infrastructure in the rural areas and cultural barriers which he said had led to a high turnover of teachers.
“This has been a major issue faced by rural schools for quite some time because teachers from outside the areas, especially non-Sarawakians, do not prefer to stay long in the particular school.
“For that reason, Sarawak introduced the 90:10 policy which means 90% of the total population of teachers in Sarawak must be Sarawakians and 10% non-Sarawakians,” he said.
As of April, he said, Sarawak was short of 3,385 teachers, 1,545 of whom were needed in secondary schools and 1,840 in primary schools.
He also noted statistics showing that 1,020 schools were at one point categorised as dilapidated, 415 of them critically so.
He said the poor condition of such schools had affected students’ academic performance, citing unsatisfactory results in the UPSR, SPM and STPM public examinations.