The word "guru" which we use today contains philosophical principles derived from the Sanskrit language with "gu" meaning darkness and "ru" meaning one who saves out of the darkness, said former education minister Maszlee Malik.
The statement, full of poetic tributes, goes on to say - as such, the word teacher refers to an enlightened human being who gives light, knowledge, guidance, example, and wisdom, as a teacher sows meaning in the lives of their students.
The statement was issued together with PKR's Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, DAP's Teo Nie Ching, and Amanah's Hasan Baharom in conjunction with Teachers' Day today.
They cited Arab poet, Al-Syauqi, "He once recited a beautiful poem about gurus. The poet said, 'Get up and greet a teacher, then give him respect. Believe me, it is almost as if a teacher becomes an Apostle."
The rank of a teacher is so high that it is almost like a teacher becomes an Apostle, read the statement, adding that, this is the value of a teacher in all our hearts.
"Indeed, teachers are the main driving force who are always sacrificing energy and time because they want to make sure we don't grow up in ignorance."
Not stopping there, the national laureate Usman Awang and late Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Ungku Hamid were also referenced.
"In this pandemic era, the challenge of becoming a teacher is also getting tougher.
"New norms are forcing teachers to be more creative, to act proactively, and to work outside the comfort zone and conventional framework for the sake of developing children," said the MPs of the Pakatan Harapan education committee, finally using their own words.
"The fact is, teachers are the cornerstones of the nation’s education, and they are our hope to educate the nation's children while shaping the future of the country.
"If they live with stress and burden, the results we wish for from students will definitely not be achieved. Let's restore joy and love among the teachers, for their joy (means) success for the country and future generations," they added.
While World Teachers Day is celebrated on Oct 5, May 16 is designated as Teachers' Day in Malaysia. This date was when the Razak Report was formally endorsed by the Federal Legislative Assembly of the Federation of Malaya in 1956, a year before independence.
The report, named after the country's first education minister Abdul Razak Hussein, provided a framework for the education system in post-independent Malaya and later Malaysia.
"We humbly wish ‘Happy Teacher’s Day’ to all educators no matter where you are. You are special human beings because you have nourished souls.
"Teachers not only educate but also cultivate the identity of students to able to face life with courage," they added.
In a separate statement, Teo also questioned the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government over additional temporary teachers promised under the MyStep or Short-term Employment Programme in Budget 2021 with an allocation of more than RM700 million.
"Under this initiative, 35,000 job opportunities will be offered in the public sector, with priority to fill up positions such as nurses, medical attendants, social welfare officers, and temporary teachers. Six months have passed since the promise was made, but we have not been informed of the additional temporary teachers our education system needs.
"Fulfilling this promise made on Nov 6 without any delay would be one of the best presents for the teachers," said Teo.
She also highlighted that 83 Covid-19 clusters involving 4,868 cases were detected in the education sector since the incremental resumption of physical classes in January, and urged that priority be given to all teachers for vaccination before schools reopen again in June.
"55,539 teachers in government schools under the Ministry of Education with co-morbidities were included in the first phase of the immunisation programme.
"However, other teachers in institutions managed by other government agencies (such as Genius Institution, People Religious Schools, State Religious Schools, Mara Junior Colleges, Royal Military Colleges) and those in private (such as kindergartens, private schools, International Schools, Religious Schools, Chinese Independent Schools, Expatriate Schools) are left out.
"Expediting vaccination for all these teachers will be a great Teachers’ Day present for them," added Teo.
She also highlighted that in order to solve the teacher shortage, the education minister under Pakatan Harapan recruited 610 interim teachers with basic bachelor’s degrees in various fields other than education.
"They were required to undergo a diploma in teaching programme conducted by IPGM during school holidays (Program Diploma Perguruan Malaysia – Kursus Dalam Cuti) in order to qualify for a permanent post.
"The contracts of these interim teachers are going to expire on Feb 14 next year, but IPGM has yet to offer the diploma programme to them. This will surely delay their permanent DG41 teaching post," she said, in calling for them to be offered the diploma programmes.