by Yin Kam Yoke, Malayan Christian Schools Council
Original recording at BFM 89.9 – The Business Station.
The loss of autonomy of mission schools has affected the performance and ethos of the schools in the country, says Yin Kam Yoke, honorary secretary of the Malayan Christian Schools Council. “The mission schools began losing their autonomy with the implementation of the Aziz Report in 1971 when 99% of all teachers in service opted to be in government servants to enjoy medical, housing and pension benefits,” she says, adding that she was one of the many who opted to be pensionable.
When the Aziz Report was implemented, the right of hiring and firing teachers was taken away from the mission schools’ board of governors. “And thus began the slow erosion of autonomy of school boards,” she says. Since then, teachers posted to mission schools came at the directive of the education departments and the Ministry of Education.
Commenting on the Convent Bukit Nanas issue — which involved the Education Ministry’s non-adherence of the principle of maximum consultation with the school’s board of governors — Yin says that more often than not, the promise to consult mission bodies in the appointment of heads to mission schools “has been honoured in the breach rather than the observance”. The right principal, she says, is crucial in upholding the ethos and vision of mission schools.
In the second and final interview of our Mission School Series, Yin discusses the challenge of finding excellent teachers, the problem of Islamisation in mission schools as well as why Malaysia should follow the Hong Kong mission schools model to replicate its success.