Sunday, October 14, 2007



The NST report (11th July 2007) titled “Solve problems, district education officers told” regarding Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar’s lashing out at district education departments which abdicated their responsibility of helping schools cope with disciplinary problems. This is another example of an outcome that could be the Education Ministry’s own doing. I refer to the frequent change of names of positions /jawatan of officers in the Education Ministry that has been going on over the past two decades or so and also the gradual but sure decentralization of the managing process in education although more managerial positions resulted.
The point I am trying to make is that a director directs and does not manage these days. Manage literally means solving problems by running, directing, administering, supervising, handling, dealing with, controlling, coping, getting by, getting along, making do, surviving and so on. One can get a degree in educational management in some countries but not here in Malaysia, if I am not wrong.

In Malaysia, the real educational managers are the classroom teachers who do all the tasking of a manager mentioned above. Those who outrank them are all directors / pengarah who just direct and more often than not to refer ( or have to) the slightest problem to the immediate superior who passes it on like a rugby team’s three quarters along the chain of educational command. This is simply because the power to do so has been centralized and any director who tries to solve it might get chastised by his so many superiors. So, going by their survival instincts, the assorted directors and assistant directors do the thing required of them which is to just “pass the buck around” till it reaches ministerial attention and sometimes, intervention and reprimand as is the case with the Deputy Minister’s reported statement.

BY: JOE CHELLIAH - taught in Malaysia between 1960 and 1996 in government institutions at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels – now retired.