Impossible workload: Teachers demand less administration; more focus on teaching and learning in Malaysia

published 4 June 2024 updated 6 June 2024

2027 will mark the arrival of a new school curriculum in Malaysia. The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is placing itself at the centre of talks on what it should contain.

Representing the diverse voices of over 185,000 teachers, NUTP are aware that in Malaysia teachers face the often insurmountable challenge of ensuring that students reach their full potential while meeting complex standards set by school administrators.

Seeing the new curriculum as an opportunity to address this challenge, the General-Secretary of NUTP Fouzi Singon spoke to the Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times.

In an article published on the 16 May 2024, Singon emphasised the need to give teachers the autonomy to decide on the pedagogical practices that enable all students to learn.

Teachers are leaders of learning: they are the professionals who are best placed to decide how to deliver content and assess their students’ mastery of a subject. The administrative burden that teachers face in Malaysia must be removed in the upcoming curriculum so that teachers can focus on teaching and learning in their classroom rather than meeting arbitrary targets set by school administrators.

Singon emphasised that the removal of the administrative burden teachers face must be accompanied by increased professional learning and development (PLD) opportunities. Teachers' confidence is bolstered when they can improve their skills. PLD opportunities allow teachers to understand how they can grow to best facilitate learning. The General-Secretary stated that nowhere was this more apparent than in the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment (T3LFA) project.

Education International's teacher-led project puts teachers back in control. Running with the support of EI member organisations in 7 countries across 4 continents, the T3LFA project aims to provide teachers with the tools and support necessary to identify and establish promising teacher-led formative assessment practices. In Malaysia, the project allowed 30 teachers to strengthen their formative assessment practice to improve student learning.

The evidence is clear. The new school curriculum in Malaysia must release teachers of administrative burdens and provide time to improve practice through professional learning and development opportunities that are teacher-centred and teacher-led like learning circles. Unions like NUTP must be at the centre of discussions on how this should be realised. PLD, guided by strong social dialogue, is at the heart of building inclusive quality public education systems.

Want to find out more about the T3LFA project? Visit the project hub.