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Malaysia recruiting 18,702 teachers to meet shortages, support home-based learning

Malaysia’s Education Ministry recently reported that national schools in four states are experiencing an alarmingly low supply of teachers. 

To address the teacher shortage in Malaysia’s national schools, the Education Ministry announced a special call for teachers.

This large-scale one-time recruitment of 18,702 teachers will commence on July 7 so that the newly recruited teachers can begin their placements in October 2021. 

“We hope this initiative will be able to overcome this problem to ensure home-based teaching and learning are carried out smoothly during this difficult time,” Malaysia’s Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr. Radzi Jidin told a virtual press conference.

Malaysia’s Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr. Radzi Jidin, on June 20, 2021

He said that the shortage of teachers for the national schools in Selangor, Sabah, Sarawak, and Johor is due to the lack of candidates from the Institutes of Teacher Education and subject-teacher mismatch. 

This comes as no surprise as the Education Ministry in 2019 reported a shortage of teachers due to an array of unforeseen circumstances such as “such as optional retirement, death, half-pay and no-pay leave exceeding one year, courses exceeding one year, discontinued services and resignations.”

He added that “the Ministry of Education (MOE) needs a number of teachers for certain subjects, but the supply (of teachers) available for these subjects is very limited.”

The subjects most affected by the subject-teacher mismatch are English, Bahasa Melayu, Islamic Education, Special Education, Religious Education, and History. 

The teachers’ starting salary ranges from 2,018 to 3,040 MYR ($485 to $730 US) per month, depending on their qualifications.

Moreover, in April 2021, the Chinese vernacular schools in Malaysia shared that they, too, are struggling with the same problem. 

Malaysia’s Education Ministry will send letters of request to approximately 500 temporary teachers to sign up for a one-year teacher training program to become full-time teachers in the Chinese vernacular schools.

Teach For Malaysia (TFM), an education non-profit organization that trains graduates and young professionals to be full-time teachers in high-need schools, says they are ready to support the Ministry of Education’s efforts to address the teacher shortage.

“Teaching is a highly skilled profession, and our experience shows that a rigorous selection process for deeply committed individuals, combined with two years of quality, structured, school-based training and support can enable non-education graduates to flourish into effective teachers and adaptive leaders,” said Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach For Malaysia.

TFM is offering support to Malaysia’s Ministry of Education to recruit the needed teachers with no additional cost to the government.

In 2020, Malaysia’s teachers faced an abrupt transition to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools currently remain closed with concerns of learners being left behind with existing technology gaps.

The shortage of teachers has also become a global issue. Increased pressures faced by teachers during the lockdowns in the United States resulted in an unprecedented number of school teachers leave the workforce in 2020

This led to an increased need for substitute teachers, yet 74% of school administrators shared that the number of applicants for substitute teachers dropped.

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