Friday, July 30, 2010

Teachers and politics

Should teachers be allowed into active politics?

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan’s announcement that graduate teachers on grades DG41 to DG48 can soon take an active part in politics has received mixed reactions from the people.

Those in favor of the move argue that the involvement of the graduate teachers will enhance the quality of the nation’s political leadership as these teachers are generally more knowledgeable in all fields. As such they can be expected to provide a better and more intellectual leadership at the grassroots as they are also generally well respected and well-liked by the people.

Furthermore teachers have been involved actively in politics before and they had proved to be effective in molding the policies of the nation in a positive way. There is no reason why they cannot continue to do so now.

Malaysians in general have attained a high level of maturity and creating balanced political awareness in the young is the only way to enhance better political governance that would lead to greater transparency and accountability in administration. In order to do that involvement of teachers in politics may be an added advantage rather than a setback.

Those who oppose the move to allow teachers to involve in active politics are fearful that it could affect the neutrality and impartiality of teachers in relating to their students. This neutrality is vital as the young minds should not be adversely influenced as their priority in schools should be focused on obtaining a sound education. Moreover allowing teachers to involve actively in politics may invariably lead to the indoctrination of the students either deliberately or otherwise.

There is also the possibility that teachers who hold important posts in political parties, especially the party in power, would use their political influence to “bully” their school heads and fellow colleagues. It would be extremely difficult for school heads to discipline their uncooperative subordinate teachers who are well connected to political parties, especially the ruling party. Such a situation would ultimately lead to the breakdown of the line of hierarchy with serious repercussions on the quality of teaching.

Involvement in politics is a basic right of every citizen and it would be unfair to deny anyone, including teachers, of that right. What is important is not to forbid them but to regulate their involvement so as not adversely affect their duties to their students. In fact if well regulated they can instead help create a balanced political awareness among the students especially on the importance of good governance, integrity and morality in politics.

Teachers may be allowed to participate in politics as an ordinary member, to support any political party they want, but they should be warned not to misuse their position to indoctrinate their students with their political views. They should not be allowed hold high positions in political parties as vying for such posts would compel them to indulge in political campaigns that would lead to neglect of the students.

The government should get the feedback from teachers themselves on this important issue of them involving in active politics.

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