“MOE said that it expects its teaching scholars to conduct themselves in a manner that ‘upholds the standards of the teaching profession’” (MOE Scholar Arrested Last Month For Lewd Acts, Miss Rachel Chan).
Teaching scholars have come under increasing scrutiny in recent times, after individual scholars – and future teachers – with the Ministry of Education (MOE) were reported to have engaged in indecent acts of sexual misconduct. The report “MOE Scholar Arrested Last Month For Lewd Acts” (March 25, 2011) by Miss Rachel Chan has raised further questions over the MOE’s scholarship selection process. The suspicions and rumblings on the ground are not unfounded; given that these scholars are empowered with the future responsibility of moulding young minds in schools, their character development and conduct are of equal – if not more – importance when compared to professional teaching-learning competencies. The ministry has the responsibility to ensure these compliances.
First, the selection process has to be strengthened. Even though this might render interviews and application processes more tedious and demanding for potential scholars, these are necessary enforcements to safeguard the quality of teaching scholars. Instead of pedantically relying on singular teacher or school recommendations – which are often beefed up and polished to display the mere positives – sessions can be made more robust, with components to test a person’s team-building capabilities, presentation and interaction skills et cetera. Random checks with the applicant’s subject teacher back in school – or even with their parents – can make selection processes more holistic.
Next, it should be stressed frequently that misconduct would not be condoned, and that severe action would be taken against those who fail to comply with the standards of manners that are befitting of the teaching profession. Third, additional efforts should be committed to regularly keep up with the progress of these scholars studying overseas, and to consistently offer them channels for sharing and interviews whenever necessary.
For the minority offenders, even though they are technically no longer under the purview of the ministry, the MOE and its administrators have the responsibility to facilitate the recovery and rehabilitation process. Working closely with their family and friends, and seeking assistance from medical professionals if necessary, methodologies such as counselling and psychological treatment should be adopted. With the amount of public attention in the media, and widespread disclosure of their names and corresponding misconduct, it is imperative for healing pedagogies to be managed responsibly. Learning from the mistakes, and to be granted a chance to move on from the unfortunate incident are important phases that must be completed by the offenders.
Prevention and cure strategies are complementary, and must be adopted in tandem speedily to quell the proliferating uneasiness. More can be done, and must be done.