Teachers who also take on the role of fully-residential school wardens are being forced to work round the clock, seven days a week, claimed the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP).
Its president Aminuddin Awang said this was because these wardens had to shoulder more than 50 duties when they begin their “shift” in the hostels.
“There are only 26 official duties listed in a financial circular letter No.6/1995 on the procedure for selecting wardens (Surat Pekeliling Kewangan Bil. 6/1995 Tatacara Pelantikan Warden Asrama), ” he said at a press conference at the union’s office yesterday.
For the union’s secretary-general, Harry Tan, a warden’s duty is on top of the teacher’s teaching duties.
“How can you expect a teacher to give their all to both their jobs when they have no rest? When are they going to have time to prepare (their lesson plans) for the next day?” asked Tan, who added that being a hostel warden also opened a teacher up to the possibility of lawsuits from parents in the event anything happened to their child.
“These wardens are being treated like babysitters and are expected to follow the children around everywhere, ” said Aminuddin, adding that the wardens were forced to do this to avoid possible lawsuits.
“The public thinks a hostel warden’s duties are the same as a prison warden’s where they monitor everything from going to the toilet, eating and sleeping to other matters, but it’s not, ” said Tan.
He said a hostel warden cannot patrol an entire hostel alone, adding that bullies tend to wait until the warden is not around to attack.
Tan said a warden was also expected to be a janitor, which means he is also called upon to resolve matters such as water shortages, as well as fixing broken pipes, taps and lights.
Things are even bleaker in the rural areas where there are no electricity or proper access roads to the hostels, which are also typically in poor conditions.
These wardens face a lot of difficulties getting sick students to a clinic while the dilapidated hostels pose a serious risk to both students and wardens, said a hostel warden from Sarawak.
He also said the wardens were expected to send students to the hospital in the middle of the night and pay their medical bills first even though some parents would not reimburse them if they had to go to a private clinic.
Tan said the situation had degenerated into one where school heads had to coerce teachers into taking up the role because no one wanted it, and that there were those who were driven to resign to avoid being a warden.
Tan said the prescribed ratio of one hostel warden to every 50 students was another stumbling block as it was not always the case that another warden would be appointed if the number of students exceeded 50 but remained at fewer than 100.
Aminuddin said he hoped the Education Ministry, especially minister Dr Maszlee Malik, would address this situation for the sake of teachers’ welfare.
This is more so considering that the minister had promised to reduce teachers’ workload, but those who are taking on warden duties are sacrificing so much of their time in exchange for a fixed housing allowance (also known as imbuhan tetap perumahan).
A teacher who takes on the role of a warden will get an allowance of RM300 to RM900 a month, depending on their grade, though this amount is halved if the warden stays in the premises.
The fixed monthly allowance is given on top of the hostel warden allowance of RM240 they receive every month.
Aminuddin said the union hoped full-time warden positions would be created so that teachers could focus on their core duties and their families as well.
He, however, suggested that teachers could still play a role in the hostel, although the majority of the duties be taken on by a full-time warden.
Tan added that NUTP would be submitting a memorandum requesting a revision of the warden’s duties and proposing some solutions to the minister.