Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Tangerang faces teacher shortage

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang, Banten

Hasanah has worked for years as a substitute teacher at Ceplak elementary school in Balaraja subdistrict, Tangerang regency, making only Rp 7,000 (80 US cents) per hour.

She teaches five hours a week at the school, so to make ends meet she also teaches at a number of other schools. She hopes to be hired by the local administration as a full-time teacher, but if that does not happen then she wants to become a contract teacher, who make more than substitutes.

Last week, the Tangerang regency held a recruiting drive for contract teachers. Hasanah was just one of about 8,000 hopefuls who filled out applications at the Serba Guna Building on Jl. Achmad Yani.

Many of the applicants are currently working as substitute teachers, and are desperate to become contract teachers and get a pay boost.

"I am willing to wait in line like this because this is the last opportunity for me to apply to be a contract teacher. If I'm not patient, I will miss out on this opportunity, which might not come around again," Hasanah, 24, told The Jakarta Post last week.

"I hope to get a job as a contract teacher because the administration has promised to pay more for a three-year contract," she said.

According to Hasanah, some substitute teachers make as little as Rp 3,000 per hour, because what they are paid depends on a respective school's financial ability.

"So we all want to become contract teachers. Who knows, maybe the administration will hire us as full-time teachers someday," she said.

Another applicant, 23-year-old Firmansyah, said he had worked as a substitute teacher for three years at a state elementary school in Cisauk district. He said the prospect of a better salary was his main reason for applying to become a contract teacher.

The recruitment committee, comprising 30 people from the regency's education agency, said it would submit all of the applications to the education ministry in Jakarta for final selection.

Currently, the regency has a total of 5,821 full-time and contract teachers. It needs an additional 6,777 teachers for state elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools. However, the education ministry will only allow the regency to hire 2,000 contract teachers due to financial constraints.

"This recruitment project comes from the central government, so after the applications are processed here we will submit them to the education ministry," Nani Risjani, chief of the regency's education agency, said.

Nani said the teacher shortage had forced many schools in Tangerang regency to assign teachers to subjects other than their own specializations.

"For example, a mathematics teacher can be assigned also to teach sports or religion, a situation that will certainly hamper efforts to improve the quality of education," she said.