PETALING JAYA: Siti Alawiah, 42, used to teach at a national primary school where there were often up to 40 pupils in a class.
The former Arabic and Islamic studies teacher admits it was “tiring and required a lot of patience” to handle so many pupils.
Speaking to FMT, she welcomed a news report that said the education ministry was considering implementing a two-teacher system in big classrooms.
However, she said a better move would be to have a programme to upgrade teachers’ management skills.
“Class management is key,” she said. “Teachers need to know how to manage a class, no matter how many students they are teaching.”
A secondary school teacher at a national school, who declined to be named, said she would disagree with the proposal if the two teachers were at the same level of seniority.
One would have a to be an assistant teacher, she said.
“To have two teachers actively teaching in the same class is unacceptable. Students will show favouritism. This will cause unpleasantness between the teachers.”
Parents Action Group for Education (Page) chairman Noor Azimah Rahim agreed that big classrooms should have a main teacher and an assistant teacher.
“We cannot have two teachers of the same calibre in one classroom,” she said.
However, she suggested that the ministry look into the possibility of reducing class sizes. “If they can spare one more teacher, then they should be able to split the class into two,” she said.
She also suggested building additional schools in densely populated areas.
“A long-term solution would be to build another school nearby and keep the student population small, like maybe 600,” she said. “The bigger the school, the more difficult it is to manage.”
An educationist also welcomed the two-teacher idea.
“It is a good move and should be supported because it is quite difficult for a teacher to handle a large class, such as one with 40 students,” said Zakaria Kasa, who heads the Education and Human Capital Development cluster of the National Professors Council.
However, he said “learning can happen more effectively” in smaller classes. “But it really depends on the attitudes and commitment of teachers and students themselves.”
He also said many problems, such as bullying, were associated with the difficulty of managing large classrooms.