Interim teachers hope to be treated fairly in June interview

KUCHING: Local temporary teachers, who have been given second chance to continue their service, hoped their one year of experience and recommendation from their school principals will be taken into consideration when they sit for their next interview in June.

A group of them, who were interviewed by The Borneo Post, said it will be unfair to them if they are put on the same level as fresh graduates who also come for the interview.

“We want our ‘Guru Interim’ status to be recognised by the JPNS (Sarawak State Education Department). While we look forward to this interview in June, all we want is for it to be conducted fairly,” they stressed.

They said that most of them left their previous jobs to take up their appointment as ‘Guru Interim Gred DC41’ from March 21 last year, after which they were posted to various schools in Sarawak. They pointed out that although they were Bachelor of Education graduates mostly from private universities, they had to seek employment in other fields be it in the public or private sector while waiting to be recruited as teachers.

“When we were offered the opportunity (to be temporary teachers in government schools), we made the decision to leave our jobs and take up the offer. We did it because this is our dream career, to be teachers.

“It has also been reported many times in the media that the Sarawak state government wants to achieve the 90:10 ratio of local teachers to those from other states by 2018.

“We (the batch of temporary teachers) can contribute towards achieving this target,” they said.

When asked the difference in their employment terms with the permanent teachers, they said they were paid the same but they were not eligible for allowance and other benefits such as sick leave and maternity leave.

If they were to take leave, they said their salaries would be deducted as they needed to ‘pay back’ for the days they were absent.

“But we are happy to perform same duties like the permanent teachers. Our working hours are the same, and we also go to school during non-schooling days for extra activities.

“Most of us have families and some of us are the sole breadwinners. Some are now expectant mothers,” they said.

They proposed that the Education Department organise courses or seminars for temporary teachers to upgrade them in line with the needs of the current syllabus.

“Please, don’t let us become victims of the system. That is why we strongly believe the school principal’s recommendation and assessment is the best way to determine whether to absorb us as permanent teachers.

“Those who did not perform well in school can be terminated but for those who did well, the school principal can recommend him/her to stay on as teachers. This creates a win-win situation, especially in schools with critical vacant teaching posts to be filled,” they said.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had announced on Feb 14 that local temporary teachers affected by termination of service have been given a second chance to go for another interview while continuing their service in schools.

“This measure is in line with the Sarawak government’s view that they (temporary teachers) deserve a second chance.

“The ministry and state government have also agreed that they can continue their service as interim teachers while waiting for the second interview,” he was quoted as saying in a press conference in response to The Borneo Post’s article regarding the bleak future of the 210 temporary local teachers whose service would be terminated on March 15.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, in a statement also issued on Feb 14, has given the assurance that these temporary teachers could continue teaching if they manage to pass a second interview.

Abang Johari clearly stated that the services of the teachers affected will not be terminated next month.

A letter made available to The Borneo Post listed 210 temporary teachers who would be terminated.

Bintulu District is the most affected with 33 temporary teachers to be terminated, followed by Miri District (24), Sibu District (19), Subis District (13), Kapit District (12) and Betong District (11).

One of the affected temporary teachers had claimed that the actual number of those terminated might rise to 239 based on those recruited and who served as ‘Guru Interim Gred DC41’ from March 21 last year in various schools in Sarawak.

The revelation had sent shockwaves as it had come out not long after a state minister was quoted as saying there were 988 vacancies for teachers in the state which must be filled by March.