Sarawak needs more local headmasters to succeed those retiring

Manyin symbolically rings a school bell to mark the opening of the Sarawak Headmasters Conference in Kuching as Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research Datu Sudarsono Osman (second left) looks on.

KUCHING: Sarawak is in need of quality local headmasters to improve its primary schools’ educational standards.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said as years go by, more and more headmasters are retiring and primary schools in the state would need younger local teachers to take over their place.

Unfortunately, he added, many of these senior teachers did not want to take up the post because they did not want to sit for the National Professional Qualification for Educational Leaders (NPQEL) course, a leadership course which is a mandatory for headmaster job candidates.

Speaking during the Sarawak Headmasters Conference at a hotel here this morning, Manyin stressed that if there are few local candidates applying for and willing to take up the post, then the state education department would have to bring in headmasters from the Peninsula to fill up the post.

“Many of our teachers don’t want to be headmasters this year because of the NPQEL course, and many are retiring. Otherwise we have to import (headmasters) from the Peninsula to replace you (retiring headmasters) because younger ones refuse to become headmasters.

“So we urge local teachers to apply so that we don’t have to (import headmasters from the Peninsula),” he told more than 500 participants at the conference consisting of headmasters and education officers from throughout the state.

This was the third series of the conference after Miri in November 2017 and Sibu in January 2018.

Manyin (seated third left) flanked by his ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datu Sudarsono Osman (second left) pose for a casual photo op after opening the Sarawak Headmasters Conference in Kuching.

Manyin said the headmasters’ post was not merely just to lead the teachers of a school, but also to manage.

“Headmasters are leaders and managers. Leaders do the right thing while managers do things right. Your role as headmasters is instrumental to the performance of your schools. If your leadership and management are good, your teachers and school also will perform well

“I believe primary schools are the ones that need the most attention other than secondary schools. This is because you need to prepare your pupils for secondary school and inculcate their interest in English, math and science subjects.

“According to national statistics, about 60 per cent of students after Form Three go into the science stream, but in Sarawak as of today only 19 per cent (do so). Out of that, only five to 10 per cent continue their tertiary education. If this goes on Sarawak will lack engineers, IT experts and scientists.

“Also, our proficiency in English is lacking. Our Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) has stressed that we need to be proficient in the English language because almost all of the books (educational) and manuals on digital technology and other technical subjects are in English. Also, most employers will not hire them (students) if they are not proficient in English,” he said.

Manyin also elaborated on the conditions of some 1,264 primary schools in the state where 1,020 were considered dilapidated, and out of that 415 were in critical condition with most located in rural areas.

“Teachers and students living in quarters and boarding houses are living in very poor conditions and I personally think it is not fit for them.

“I have been on a working visit to eight schools in Ulu Selangau, Baram, Limbang and Lawas, and I was very disappointed with their condition.

“That is why we need a huge allocation from the federal government for our schools — to repair and rebuild them,” he said. — DayakDaily