NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock.
NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock.

Malaysia: Union calls for protection of teachers as frontline personnel

published 25 January 2021 updated 26 January 2021

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has urged Malaysian public authorities to ensure the health and safety of educators delivering presential teaching to public examination students. This call comes after 11 teachers were infected with COVID-19 in the eastern state of Terengganu.

As the pandemic continues, the NUPT is also concerned about teachers’ physical attendance at a recent workshop. “This group of teachers were instructed to attend in presential mode a workshop on remote teaching and learning organised by the district’s Education Office, while the country is confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock.

In a statement addressed to the Education Ministry, he asked: “Are they not sensitive to the current pandemic development? Were teachers given personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, overcoats? And was the workshop held in accordance with set standard operating procedures?”

PPE for teachers needed

He also explained that students sitting for the 2020 national Malaysian exams have been attending physical classes since 20 January.

NUTP called on the Education Ministry to prepare PPE for teachers to guarantee their safety and health “as they are frontliners in education”, he reminded.

Additional hours’ teaching time negatively impacts teachers and students

Tan also highlighted how that some schools had forced teachers to work from 7.30am to 4.30pm, which exceeded the official teaching duration of 7.30am to 2.30pm. The additional two hours - 2.30pm to 4.30pm - are for extra classes and are outside the official teaching hours, he insisted.

“No doubt, prolonged hours at school will weaken the spirits of students preparing for the diverse exams. The same goes for the teachers who have been previously working hard on planning and teaching online classes,” he underlined.

NUTP is suggesting that the timetables of presential and online classes for all schools be synchronised. This would “provide students and teachers with their own space and time for leisure activities”, Tan concluded.