Kota Kinabalu April 26, 2012: Teachers in Sabah have been cautioned against making any political statement that contradicts their position as a civil servant and steers them away from discharging duties entrusted to them.
State Education Director, Datuk Dr Muhiddin Yusin said he had personally received complaints that some teachers were involved in political activities and attacking the policy of the government in view of the looming general elections.
The complaints received were verbal and there might be some truth in it, he said, adding that there were also teachers who were posting political statements on Facebook or blogs, which could be misinterpreted by the people.
"I want these teachers to stop it because it is only disturbing them from carrying out their duty, that is to teach school children É it is unbecoming," he said when met after opening the Sabah Secondary School Principals 36th Conference at Promenade Hotel here Wednesday.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Muhiddin advised principals to look after the teachers under their care who might be "doing things outside their work scope."
Furthermore, he said it is clearly spelt out in the Chapter D of the General Order that public service personnel including teachers are not allowed to take part in politics unless with written permission from the Director-General of the Public Service Department or respective Ministry.
As the head of the department, he said he had to take action against those found breaching the order.
"Either during work or not they are not allowed to do so," he said to a question. Dr Muhiddin reminded the teachers that they were making statements based on their opinion and it might be different from others, which in the end would only create confusion among the public.
"At the same time the public may also start to question us because we are a public service personnel but we are criticising the government left and right," he said, adding that it would be worse if the statements were inclined towards any of the political parties. "It is not necessary to get involved in politics because the duty of a teacher is to teach É just teach the students," he said.
To a question, he said teachers should also avoid participating in rallies such as those planned by Bersih. "They will only be making it difficult for themselves if they get into trouble while participating in the gathering," said Dr Muhiddin.
On the issue of a primary school's teachers starting lesson only at 9am as mentioned by him in his speech, he said it was due to the teachers living far away from the school. He had stumbled upon the situation when he made an unannounced visit to a primary school while traveling back from Tawau to the State Capital recently. He said such situation was not serious in Sabah as it was only happening in isolated places, particularly in remote areas.
On the many challenges faced by principals in Sabah as voiced out by the Sabah Secondary School Principal Association President, Liasin Kaloh, Dr Muhiddin said it had already been noted and most of it required decisions from the Education Ministry.= "So we have forwarded the requests to the Ministry and we are now waiting for it," he said, adding that he was confident that it would be given due attention by the Ministry.
In his welcoming remarks, Liaisin said among the challenges faced by school principals in Sabah was in getting funds for minor repairs since now, even if one of the school's toilet doors fell out, they had to think hard to look for the funds to repair it. He hoped the Ministry would be able to provide petty cash to allow schools to do minor repairs urgently.
Another challenge, he said was the delivery system of the Education Ministry, particularly in the implementation of new programmes, as Sabah was always the last to get these.
Liasin said the other challenge for them was the issue of experienced teachers who have been teaching in a particular school for more than five years but who are suddenly transferred and replaced by freshly graduated teachers.
He said they were banking on these experienced teachers for a successful implementation of their school education plan.
Asked to comment on this, Dr Muhiddin said it was unintentional because at a certain point of time the teachers have to be transferred.
However, the Department and Ministry were continuously trying to find solutions particularly in getting more teachers, he said, agreeing that the situation may have something to do with Sabah's lukewarm performance in public examinations. A total of 218 principals and representatives including from Labuan took part in the three-day conference from Monday.