All persons have a right of access to lifelong learning by every appropriate means with full opportunity regardless of gender, race, colour, age, sosio-economic status, physical disabilities or geographic location. An accessible education system would make provision for all sectors within its population, for all levels of ability and disability, for all religious and ethnic groups taking account of all economic circumstances.
Access to quality education is an essential prerequisite for individuals to achieve their full potentials. In line with this, the vision of the Ministry of Education is to aspire to provide the best educational services in order to develop a dynamic and progressive future Malaysian generations. This is a commitment and a promise to the people as declared in the Customer Charter namely “to provide the best educational system based on a culture of knowledge in order to fulfill the needs of individuals, society and the country as well as fulfilling the objective of national unity.”
In the effort to widen access to education, equity and in enhancing the quality of education, the Ministry of Education stressed on four actions to be taken. Firstly, to strengthened primary school so that it becomes the first choice of the citizens, Secondly, to strengthened the curriculum fulfilling the countries need and is world class. Thirdly, a balanced education development between urban and rural areas, narrowing the digital gap of the rich and the poor. Fourthly, to honour and strengthened our teachers, and to aspire to world-leading standards.
The Minister of Education of Malaysia emphasized three aspects that determine quality; output produced, input and process. When we examine our output, we most certainly want a perfect and complete individual; we need a holistic and integrated education system. Gone are the days of placing importance on just academic achievements and grades. The input and the process rest in the hands and expertised of our teacher. Hence there are two broad approaches to evaluating quality. One involves measuring outputs, which is largely based on examination results. The other involves examining the educational processes which produce these outputs. External evaluation of educational processes by inspectors has long been tradition in our system. Quality by itself can be defined as follows; (taken from various sources)
"Quality" is to satisfy the ever-changing needs of our customers, vendors and employees, with value added products and services emphasizing a continuous commitment to satisfaction through an ongoing process of education, communication, evaluation and constant improvement.”
Quality can also be defined as fundamentally relational: 'Quality is the process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating, and fulfilling stated and implied needs.' It is not a process of consumption but rather a process of interactions between teachers and students.
Quality in our context can be regarded from different perspectives. For many students quality is when their skills are awarded and their achievements acknowledged and the teacher stimulates learning. For parents, quality is when students are safe and students can learn. Whereas for teachers, quality is a school when students want to learn and where the working conditions are good.
Quality is... “do what you have to do when you have to do it well done to satisfy your customer needs and make your product or service do what they are suppose to do.”
In our case, an adequate definition must include student outcomes, and the nature of the educational experience that helps to produce the outcomes - the learning environment. Therefore to have quality output we should have quality process. To have quality process we should have quality teachers, which lead us to the importance of teachers and the role they play promoting quality education for the good of all.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHERS
What is needed of the teacher to provide quality education? Report in The International Working Papers, September 2004, by Ulf Fredricksson, defines quality teacher in five dimensions:
a. Knowledge of substantive areas and content;
b. Pedagogic skill, including the acquisition and ability to use a repertoire of teaching strategies;
c. Reflection and ability to be self critical, a mark of teacher professionalism;
d. Empathy, and commitment to the acknowledgement of the dignity of other;
e. Managerial competence, as teachers assume managerial responsibility within and outside the classroom.
The above quality cannot be seen as separate entities but should be seen as a holistic concept. It is the integration of competencies across these dimensions that mark the qualities of an outstanding teacher.
As teachers are in the forefront of the implementation of various national agenda, they are given more and more responsibilities. Besides teaching they are suppose to take into full account of the students` best interest. Through education, young people and children must be also be given the tools to deal with the different tasks that that they will need to perform in their lives. They will need the necessary skill and gain the essential knowledge that will make them possible to play an active part in the society as citizens.
Therefore teachers play an important role in the development of every students potential and to make sure each student will have access to quality education whereby the present and the future needs of the particular student is being fulfill.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHERS
Teachers as skill Human Resource development, delivery and management of quality education
Teaching and learning are core principles in any education system. Quality teaching promotes quality learning. Quality teaching and quality learning could contribute significantly to a better education system The quality of education that is serve depends very much on the capability and competency of teachers in delivering effective teaching using the latest methodology and approaches. As teachers are trained for the teaching profession, they have the professional skill to develop, deliver and managed quality education. It is in our understanding that the quality and the relevancy of a country’s education system will determine the country’s successful development. As such, to meet the challenged from globalization and K-economy, Malaysian should be more knowledgeable, skillful, disciplined and should prioritised quality. “If we hope to make our children better, teachers have to be much better.” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi.
To assure that the profession has the best quality teacher Ministry of Education stressed on the following;
a. Recruit/select the most suitable candidate for pre service training. Teacher quality is a critical factor in determining student learning.
b. Professional development at all levels including in-service such as training, courses, seminars and workshops. Planning and implementation of short-term courses through in-service training programmes were undertaken which give priority to the enhancement of the capability of the teachers.
c. Enhance the management aspect of education: National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is a preparation training programme for leadership and education management. This is especially for those with potential of being leaders and managers in school. This is to ensure that education management becomes more efficient and effective.
d. Enhancing the glory and prestige of the teaching profession to prevent teachers from leaving the teaching profession i.e. retention of skill and experience teachers in the profession. Post are created such as masters teachers, outstanding principal etc.
e. Creating opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing, creating new challenges. In the era of globalization, enhancing networking helps to promote quality at all levels. Example the sharing of resources and expertise such as measures to enhance performance of English through the PET teachers program. Focus is given to a more concentrated effort at increasing the student proficiency in English language.
Creating a Lifelong Learning Society
We are now moving and shifting our directions to help students build attitudes and skills to be a learner and not over dependent on the formal education system. Teachers are responsible to educate students on how best they can adapt themselves to their environment by providing them with the knowledge and skills of utilizing whatever resources available in their areas for development. There are abundance of resource materials such as books, audio visual, equipment, modules, on-line materials, interactive software and so on. With the information technology and abundance of resources for learning, teachers play an important role in promoting self access learning. This is a move towards lifelong education.
Furthermore, upgrading the curriculum must be followed by the creation of teaching and learning resources that are suitable and relevant to students and the current needs. As such, in-service training were conducted through the Teacher Education Division and the Educational Technology Division to encourage the creation of suitable and relevant interactive multimedia, teaching and learning materials by the teacher themselves.
Cultivating reading habits among students is essential for longlife learning. Readings help students to develop themselves to be more aware of the current practice and helps them update knowledge in order to be a better person. Competent teacher, through various techniques and social interactions can encourage people to develop the habit of reading books, papers and various subjects.
Establishing work culture of quality
Teachers should strive for better quality of education by setting a work culture of excellence. Improvement for quality is an on-going process and there is no end point in the search for improved quality. Teachers and institutional managers must be convince about the value of the quality improvement processes they are asked to follow. Efforts have been made by the Ministry of Education to foster this work culture by establishing appropriate monitoring. By setting targets related to quantitative measures such as students` achievement at all levels, teachers can identify what is needed to be done in order to improve. They must reflect on their teaching practice and change if necessary, to suit current needs. What is relevant today might not be relevant tomorrow.
Teacher and information communication technology
Advances in information technology can never take place of a teacher but as educators, teachers need to change and review the current practices to keep abreast of present day development. Failure to do this will inevitably result in developments that do not conform to prevailing needs. Being at the forefront of education and implementors of educational programmes, teachers must equipped themselves with IT technology skill.
In this era of globalization, teachers must be aware of the needs, to be competent in this area if they are to help students, having the necessary
skills and the know-how, to have access to informations,
ICT in education is now actively and systematically promoted through strategic planning by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia. It is a key project to expand access to education, increase flexibility of delivery and improve on quality. It is pertinent for
teachers to inculcate lifelong skills and giving priority to produce future generation students who are IT competent, thus preparing them for knowledge based economy.
Inculcating values in education
It is the aspiration of every education system, to produce a complete individual of quality. Values must be understood as fundamentals for quality education. National Philosophy of Malaysia states that “….it is an on-going efforts towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner,…” Teachers play a very important role in integrating and inculcating values through teaching and learning processes. Beside imparting knowledge, they are being the role model, emulates by the students. Values are caught but not taught. The use of education to promote values should be strengthened. A teacher should not only be confined to being a mere source of information but rather a developer of various skills, attitudes, norms and ethics in his students.
Ensuring curriculum and assessment methods are relevant
Assessment and examination systems measure the full range of achievements – personal, social and academic of individual learners and education system. Analysed data, help us to identify weaknesses and is very important for quality improvement. Assessment is an on going process to ensure that certain standard has been achieved. It can be quantitative or qualitative. Teacher assessed students while teaching and learning process is taking place be it inside or outside the classroom. We are now moving away from the central examination towards school base assessment. Language is assessed orally by the teacher in or outside the classroom. Part of the science subject are now being assessed school base by the teacher teaching the subject. Thus, it requires the professional competency of the teacher to justify that curriculum assessment is being done properly to really assessed achievements of educational objectives.
If equal access to quality education for the good of all is to be realized, teachers as professional must be ready to take the responsibility to ensure that quality teaching is taking place in or outside the classroom. It is not just delivery of knowledge, but ensuring that learning is a joy and is a lifelong process. There should be a paradigm shift, where the teacher uses his skill and expertise to shift the initiative for learning to the learner. This is a challenged to all teachers.
Annual Report, Ministry of Education Malaysia
Ibrahim A. Bajunid (2002). Changing Mindsets: Life Long for All; In Educational Journal. IAB, KPM Malaysia.
Papers From the CCEM: Education For All. A Global Commitment. World Education Forum. Dakar Senegal.
Working Papers and Conferences : Down Loaded Materials from the Internet.