Friday, June 12, 2009

Pave the way for sports grads to schools

Sports science graduates should be seriously considered for Physical Education (PE) teachers in schools, in view of the shortage PE teachers in country.

Yes, sports science graduates become teachers, but the percentage from the actual number of graduates each year is only about 25%.

The sports science degree course was introduced by University Malaya in1995 and the first batch graduated in 1999. Since then, an average of 120 graduates have graduated each year and
UiTM and several other universities too now offer the same course.

However, armed with the three-year degree course, the graduates cannot go to the schools and teach immediately. They have to attend a one-year course to attain the Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah. This course is available in some Universities and Teacher Training Colleges after attaining the sports science degree. The reason behind this course is to educate the graduates to teach sports science, health science and PE in schools. Their sports science degree does not include the teaching syllabus. It only covers coaching, management and physiotherapy.

But due to the problem of limited seats available for this course, only a minimum number of the graduates proceed to attend this course, while others feel that they would be better off doing a second degree in another field or start working.

Many of the sports graduates who decide to work immediately face employment problems in their related fields because agencies like the National Sports Council, National Sports Institute and State Sports Councils only have limited vacancies each year. Even sports associations do not hire these graduates. (In contrast refer to this story and data on what
2008 Physiology and Sports Graduates did when they completed their degree at the University of Glasgow)

I had highlighted this problem four years ago in my Level Field column in The Malay Mail. (refer to this story). However, four years down the line, not much has improved to overcome the shortage of PE teachers in schools.

A sports science graduate from Perak who is now teaching for the last three years, confirmed that the problem still exists. He said from his batch only about 30 graduates became teachers.

This lad now teaches Moral, Sports Science (which has become a syllabus recently) and Physical Education. This former M-League striker besides coaching his school soccer team, has even gone a step further, to start a soccer academy near his home with the help of a local club called Ipoh Fridays Club. He has recruited eight coaches to assist to coach 120 players every Sunday for two hours. They only charge a minimum of RM 15 per player.

Imagine if we had 50 sports graduates each year, doing what this lad has embarked on, sports in the country will have a sound foundation and the future will certainly be bright. But first, these graduates must be attracted to teach sports in schools and cut the red is sports after all!

It is common knowledge that teachers who have no background in sports have been asked to be PE teachers because of the shortage. To make matters worse, because of women and men ratio in schools, more often then not, it is the women teachers who end up being PE teachers. Thus, it is little wonder why our sports standards are deteriorating.

Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Education Minister, recently said that the government has decided to set up a specialist teacher training institute where it will train teachers to coach in various sports. My question is, would it not be advisable to use the sports science graduates who are already available. Since these teachers are only going to coach, probably they can exempted from the Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah. That way, the situation can immediately be addressed.

For the record the percentage of men and women teachers as of 2008 is 31.4% men and 68.6% women teachers in primary schools and 33.7% men and 63.3% women teachers in secondary schools.

This is another teachers' problem Muhyiddin intends to address (see today's NST story).

Indeed the teachers need to be given fresh incentives to take up the noble profession but without compromising on standards. However, making the path to take up the profession much simpler would help, especially for the sports science graduates.

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