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Are Malaysian Teachers Underappreciated?

So much work, yet so little time.

In recent times, each Malaysian citizen seemingly have a say about education in Malaysia. It appears that when approached with a question on how do we 'solve' issues among students whether it would be truancy, smoking, social issues, lack of competitiveness and poor performance on standardized tests, it is answered by saying that the root of the problem lies in teachers not doing their job, not properly educating and teaching these kids to read, write, behave and achieve as 'society' wants them to.

Lack of intervention and understanding towards a teacher's workload has caused millions of teachers quitting their jobs in a matter of days all over the world. But do citizens really understood the job scopes and pressure that teachers go through everyday?

Firstly, why are some teachers leaving their jobs?

Teachers work hard and make sacrifices in trying to ensure our children have the best educational opportunities they can provide. The never-ending pressure allocated on teachers has become one of the main reason why teachers are changing roles and their employment, or in some unfortunate cases, leaving the workforce altogether. A study by Dr Craig A. Metler in 2016 highlighted that the overall rate for teachers job satisfaction was only 26 percent, which emphasizes an alarming if not worrisome scenario.

Citizens are rarely aware of the extra time teachers spend preparing to teach, grading papers, and filling out administrative forms. Amidst all the accusations, we do not notice the overloaded administrative work in education or the substantial extra money teachers spend on supplies and educational materials the school system either won’t or can’t provide.

So, why are teachers underappreciated?

Many teachers experiences psychological distress caused by job demands, job control and lack of social support.

1. Job Demands involving after work hours.

"Resuts, results, results.."

Teacher's job includes the costs such as their time and energy (even monetary costs) to complete the tasks assigned by schools which includes administrative tasks and lesson plans. Teachers' job demands include heavy workload, problems with equipment, work outside of working hours that has to be continued at home and time pressure, and emotional strain. For example the load of reports to fill, due dates, emotional demands that comes from teacher-parent interaction and personal matters such as work-home conflicts.

2. Endless pressure that arises from lack of authority to determine decisions.

".. has already been decided by the management."

Also known as lack of 'autonomy' as there are unnecessary levels of supervision and surveillance that executes constant pressure among teachers. Teachers faces excessive responsibility with little authority or decision-making capability often determined by the schools. They have little influence in how they meet work demands and how they perform their work in general.

3. Lack of Social support from closed ones.

".. you should have taught my children better."

Teachers receive minimal support from family, friends and parents regarding their choice of occupation and the amount of effort they put in to deliver quality education towards these children. These parties put in a lot of expectations upon educators and yet they give back little to no understanding of teacher's efforts and work demands.

Work-related pressure due to excessive work demand and low task control are often the sole reasons of low job satisfaction. Workers, regardless of occupation, with high job demands, poor job control and in isolation pressure works, and poor social help according to studies have been shown to cause adverse effects of high risk for health and welfare.

Teachers concern about every aspect of their student's achievement and behavior at school and at home, the welfare and the conditions in which some students live. They allocate an ample amount of hours studying approaches to help them improve as an educator or to try and uncover help for a student with a particular learning disability. These experience was not limited to two or three teachers. These behavior and job ethic encompasses a vast majority of teachers.

Therefore, let us take the necessary step of appreciating and understanding teachers. Most of us are fortunate to have had some remarkable individuals as educators who has inspired and challenged us, to be the best version of ourselves. These individuals are tasked to do a very challenging and fundamental work of teaching the younger generation to adore learning, and instead of point out struggles as flaws and incompetence, let us show them the appreciation they deserve and educate ourselves of their struggles to come up with ways to lessen their burden and provide them the support they need. Be it physical or emotional.

A huge appreciation towards all the teachers. Thank you teacher, and Happy Teachers Day.

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