The Education Ministry is seeking to identify the best method to overcome the problems of substitute teachers at all primary and secondary schools including Chinese and Indian national-type schools in the country, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said.
Based on the government's decision in the last budget, it was announced that female teachers were eligible to take maternity leave up to 90 days as compared to 60 days in the past.
"So, looking at it from this context, the numbers of days had increased, which means that we need substitute teachers or an increase of at least 50 per cent.
"So we are looking for a way to solve this problem," he told a press conference after opening the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC)-Teacher Education Division (TED) Conference 2011 on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin here today.
He said substitute teachers were needed because many teachers took maternity leave simultaneously, and seeing this is beyond expectation, it is not easy to find substitute teachers.
"This is a phenomenon which we have identified and must find a way to overcome. Although we have back up teachers it require careful planning and increase in allocation," he said.
Meanwhile, he urged teachers to stay away from the planned rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
"As teachers, they are aware of what they should do or should not do. We have full confidence in the teachers. They are rational and I do not think this is a problem because they are highly disciplined, dedicated and professional...they know how to differentiate freedom. Whatever they want to do, they will give it deep thought," he said.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin in his speech which was read by Wee said the ministry with the support of ELTC is conducting a massive retraining conversion programme to upgrade and up-skill these non-TESL trained teachers who have been teaching English 'illegitimately'.
He said these courses include proficiency and pedagogy enhancement and a 14-week certificate in the practice of ELT.
"There is work in progress to accredit these courses for credit transfer to a basic degree. To date, 12,000 English language teachers have undergone training, with another 10,000 teachers targeted for this year.
"The ministry has engaged 360 native speakers to guide and mentor our teachers in the remote and disadvantaged schools. In addition, a total of 15 training fellows have been placed in the five centres of English teaching excellence.
"The ministry is also hiring 600 retired English language teachers on the contractual basis from 2011 to 2013. To date, 168 teachers have accepted this offer and are serving in primary schools to help upgrade the standard of English language," he added.