Why are teachers retiring early? ‘Nonsensical’ orders, clerical burden and family separation key factors, says report

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Teachers who choose to retire early in Malaysia may do so due to reasons such as “nonsensical” orders from school management and being burdened with clerical work, and also not being allowed to transfer to be with their families, a report has said.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon reportedly said that teachers would be happy to continue teaching if a school is well-managed but said pressure from school management could result in teachers’ early retirement.

“There are complaints of problematic school management issuing various unreasonable orders, so feel uncomfortable and that is one of the reasons for choosing to retire early,” he was quoted as saying yesterday to national daily Utusan Malaysia.

He said there would be no problem if teachers are happy in a school despite having a little burden if the school principal is good at managing and there is no pressure, adding that school managements that cause teachers to be pressured will result in early retirement by teachers.

Utusan Malaysia also reported Kongres Kesatuan Guru Dalam Perkhidmatan Pelajaran Malaysia (Kongres) secretary Mohd Azizee Hasan as saying that some teachers retire early as they were forced to adapt to new skills of teaching online, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He reportedly said this posed a difficulty for senior teachers who were unused to this approach requiring the mastery of digital technology.

He said other factors for early retirement include teachers still having to do non-major clerical work such as reports for Pentaksiran Bilik Darjah (PBD) or classroom-based assessment (PBD), Sistem Pentaksiran Aktiviti Jasmani Sukan Kokurikulum (PAJSK) or physical, sports and co-curricular activities assessment, B40 student data management, as well as distribution of the early schooling aid Bantuan Awal Persekolahan (BAP).

He said there needs to be teaching assistants to deal with clerical work in schools, and that teachers should return to playing their actual role of educating students and building students’ character.

He said another factor why teachers retire early is when their repeated applications for transfer of schools is ignored and they must be far from their family, noting that they would choose to prioritise their family for wellbeing purposes.

Utusan Malaysia also reported him as saying that the Education Ministry should carry out a study on why teachers choose to retire early, and that complete data would be needed to help the ministry in making a holistic action plan.

He also reportedly said attention should be given to the mental and emotional wellbeing of teachers as schools should be an enjoyable place for both students and teachers, and also suggested enhancing the mastery of digital teaching technology especially among senior teachers through continuous training and mentoring.

On February 29, Deputy Education Minister Wong Kah Woh told the Dewan Rakyat that 6,394 teachers (1.49 per cent of the overall teaching workforce) were approved in 2023 to go on early retirement, while 5,306 teachers (1.23 per cent) were allowed to go on early retirement in 2022.

Wong had said the Education Ministry had carried out a survey in 2022 and found that the reasons why teachers opt for early retirement are stable financial position, retirement benefits, health problems, changes in policies implemented and the digitalisation of teaching.

He had also listed initiatives taken by the ministry to ensure teachers remain motivated, including measures for teachers’ wellbeing, and clinical counselling services for teachers who do not succeed in transfer applications. He had also said the ministry was working to minimise management and non-professional administrative duties.

Based on data as of September 2023, he had said the highest numbers of teachers who choose to retire early are in the age group of 50 and above, or more than 97 per cent.

On June 26, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek in a written parliamentary reply to Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said the ministry’s records showed that the total number of teachers approved for early retirement for the past three years are between 4,300 to 6,300 persons.

In the same parliamentary reply, Fadhlina said the main reasons contributing to teachers choosing to retire early are not interested (72.36 per cent), family factor (15.21 per cent), health factor (6.96 per cent), duty burdens (3.82 per cent), and personal problems (1.64 per cent).

Yesterday, national news agency Bernama reported Fadhlina as saying that the ministry has taken measures to boost teachers’ motivation to prevent them from choosing early retirement but will still give them space to decide, and noted that those who opt to do so are due to reasons like health, no interest and family matters.

She was confident that early retirement of thousands of teachers would not affect Malaysia’s education system and also said that 98 per cent of teaching vacancies nationwide have been filled.