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The Malaysian education system is in crisis

Updated: Jan 11

Writer: Chen JingKun, Sun ZhiTong, WuJunKe 

Editor: Liao YuQin, Li ShiMeng

Are Malaysian lecturers opting for early retirement because they are overburdened? Where does their pressure come from?

According to Sin Chew Daily, the number of lecturers opting for early retirement is now equal to the number of electors who have been forced to retire. Of all the reasons why councilors leave early, the burden of non-teaching duties seems to be the most important.

With the new crown pandemic of the last few years, all professions have been affected in one way or another, and lectures are no exception.

"Certainly, a lot of changes needed to be made in the way I teach my classes. At first, I was stressed out about teaching online, so I had to learn new technologies to teach, and it was a burden to teach from home because of my internet connection. I made a lot of plans and discussed them with my friends, and we worked together. Sharing ideas and knowledge among friends really helps me to cope with stress," Dr. Frau Hassen, a German language lecturer from UKM Malaysia said.

DR. Frau Hassen has experienced the impact of the new crown fad on his work in the last few years. He mentioned that his own way of working has been changed by COVID-19. Online teaching models have replaced the traditional face-to-face teaching models, and he has had to learn about Internet technology and exchange experiences to cope with these new changes. More importantly, the process of changing long-standing habits and adapting to the new teaching mode inevitably created a huge burden for them. Based on his experience, he found it very challenging, especially for those lecturers who are not good at using electronic devices.

According to Dr. Frau Hassen, the pressure on the councilors is not just from the New Crown Pandemic.

When it comes to the school side of the equation, DR. Frau Hassen offers some insights into the reasons why lecturing is overworked in higher education. When it comes to assignments, schools always want lecturers to do more work. This is not limited to the scope of lecturers' teaching. In addition to this, universities want lecturers to compete for research grants, in order to expand the impact of their disciplinary research in the field, and a number of other reasons, which undoubtedly greatly increase the workload and stress of lecturers, hence the psychological effects of anxiety and dissatisfaction.

"I think it is the university organizations that are overburdened," DR. Frau Hassen mentioned, "They want university lecturers not only to teach, which should be the main scope of their work, but they also want lecturers to apply for research grants and to write a certain number of indexed papers." 

Beyond that, there are pressures regarding the primary scope of work of the lecturers. According to Dr. Muhammad Adana Pitchon, a media lecturer, if the lecturers want to pursue a higher quality of teaching, they need to spend more time and energy on their own work in addition to the weekly lectures, sometimes even more than eight hours. As a result, the workload of lecturers becomes heavier and heavier, and they often feel a great deal of pressure. People who are under such pressure for a long time are more likely to think of retiring early to get relaxation.

"I have to review each student's work every day in addition to preparing lectures, so I work more than eight hours a day. Due to the heavy workload, this sometimes stresses me out and I wish I could retire early so that I can take a long vacation," Dr. Muhammad Adana said.

With the huge burden of non-teaching duties faced by lectorates who are subjected to extraordinary workloads and work pressure due to various factors, more education practitioners will begin to think about early retirement. However, lecturers are important catalysts for the development of the state and the country. If this situation continues, Malaysia will face a more serious education crisis. And it is necessary for the Malaysian government to come up with policies to ease the burden on lecturers and provide more budget for education.

"It is a loss for the campuses. But they must choose the best for themselves and their families," DR. Frau Hassen said. "I think they should be rewarded, for example, if the lecturers have publications, managed to get grants or are doing any administrative work. They should be compensated for doing extra work."

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