Saturday, April 3, 2010

Student Power

This afternoon, at the UMW Corporation premise, the UMW Toyota Toastmasters Club hosted the Division C International Speech & Table Topics Contest. There were 7 contestants in the International Speech contest and I thought 4 of the speeches were pretty good. But when I heard Stephen Fernando, I rightaway knew he will win hands down – and he did. He is a natural speaker who can be both serious and funny at the same time – I certainly enjoyed his speech very much. Anyway, he is a deserving winner.

The Table Topics contest also saw 7 contestants, and my two choices for honors were Tan Tyng Yng and Chuan Teik Boon. When the results were announced, the former emerged champion and the later was second runner-up.

I came across this interesting article in The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/alarm-raised-at-pupils-power-over-appointment-of-teachers-1934808.html) today. A report for UK’s National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers says schools are increasingly appointing pupils to interview panels or even forcing candidates to be questioned by a separate panel of children after formal assessment. In addition, pupils are being trained to observe lessons and report back to senior staff about teaching standards. In fact, children as young as 12 are increasingly being given a say in the appointment of new teachers, in some cases vetoing their school's preferred candidate.

The practice of putting pupils on interview panels has grown following government support for a clause in the United Nations charter on children's rights, which states that there must be an assurance "to the child who is capable of determining his or her own views the right to express them freely". In all matters affecting the child, their views should be given the "due weight" relevant to their age and maturity.

Ministerial guidance to schools encourages headteachers to ensure that pupils have a voice in governance. However, the NASUWT – Britain's second-largest teaching union – argues that children's questions can be "inappropriate" and it does not believe they should sit on interview panels because they are not properly trained to do so.

But headteachers are supportive. John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "It is particularly useful to have student involvement at interviews for teaching, student support and senior leadership posts. Candidates who cannot convince the students are unlikely to be very effective if appointed."

Can you imagine if this policy is implemented at HICT? I reckon at least 70% of the lecturers will have to start looking for alternative jobs! This is very novel, is it not?

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