Adequate training is required to ensure teachers meet the demands of new-style lessons.

HOW many of us really understand the curriculum? It has been said poorly trained teachers “are unable to deliver new curriculum”.

The Education Ministry’s statistics dated June 1 state that Malaysia has 239,850 primary and 181,978 secondary school teachers, totalling 421,828. Of these, how many are knowledgeable enough to deliver the government’s tough curriculum, as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, asked a speaker at a forum in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The curriculum was analysed from three angles: what is written in the curricula or the “written curriculum”, what is taught in the classroom or the “taught curriculum” and what is examined or the “examined curriculum”. Many in the auditorium were left looking at each other, including senior and veteran teachers plus a generation of new teachers, many of whom have little or no grounding in many key aspects of the curriculum being introduced.

It shows that there is a significant knowledge gap at the heart of the teaching profession because of a failure to provide proper training.

Many are “completely at sea with many aspects of proper usage”, it was said at the forum. Some young teachers are not taught about the curriculum properly when they were educated in the 1990s or 2000s, meaning they are often “less confident” about the subject than their pupils.

Though reading may help to a certain extent, going deeper into subordinate clauses may not help.

Some teachers were deemed “unversed” in their subjects, while we undoubtedly have teachers who know their subjects but there are not enough of them around to teach the extras.

A shortage of “rigorously educated teachers” may mean that the new curriculum fails to fulfil its true potential in the classroom.

The curriculum provides a back-to-basics approach to education, emphasising the key knowledge that pupils must acquire at each stage.

Action is needed to ensure teachers can meet the demands of new-style lessons and many are being forced to sign up for “hastily arranged training courses in the new curricula and burning the midnight oil to prepare themselves”.

Qualified teachers do not teach the subject of their choice. Some teachers cannot teach effectively as they do not have the requisite knowledge and skills to teach the subjects assigned to them.

The weakness in the dissemination strategy is another constraint. The cascade system of using key personnel has resulted in the dilution of messages that the curriculum planners and developers have conceptualised.

Bridging the knowledge gap for a generation of teachers, whose education may not have included the breadth that the new curriculum espouses, is our immediate task. Beyond that, we must ensure that teachers’ training institutes address these needs.

AZIZI AHMAD, Kuala Lumpur

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