Do you know that STU is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year ? If, like me, you only learned of STU's existence about ten years ago (or fifteen years ago), then you have company. Right now there are some teachers somewhere in the state who are still unaware of STU's identity and many, especially the newly-appointed ones, do not have much idea (if at all) of its functions and how such an organisation can (and does) play a role in teachers' life.
The STU is formed by teachers, for teachers. Not surprisingly all of its activities are directly related to teachers and the teaching profession. That being so, it comes naturally that we should give it our support without which the Union would lose its credibility and effectiveness.
I became a member about four years ago. In doing so I close rank with about 14,000 teachers state-wide who are already members. Since there are about 26,000 of us in Sarawak, that means there are still many more who have not made a commitment yet. Their query may be, "what do I gain if I become a member ?"
In fact there are many ways we benefit if we are members. Right from the beginning STU has always championed the needs and privileges of teachers. It has shown a high degree of commitment in its effort to improve teachers' professional life. It believes in negotiations and consultations to achieve its goal as opposed to some Unions which tend to be more aggressive and volatile in their approach.
Besides that STU is active in its endeavour to improve teachers' standard of living. A case in point is the introduction of insurance schemes which are within the financial means of all teachers. STU is also affiliated to several International and National Organisations such as Education International (EI) and Asean Council of Teachers (ACT) all to the benefit of our teachers. STU is also keeping abreast with the IT development in the country. It is setting up a Network Centre which offers various IT courses for teachers and their families. Let's hope that teachers will make full use of this Centre to take up courses, enjoy the facilities there such as the Internet etc.
Last but not least it is my personal opinion that we should not just take a lackadaisical attitude towards our very own Union. The officials who run it are just simple folks like you and I standing up for all of us (professionally speaking). Often they are willing to go the extra mile to see to our welfare (within their capacity). The teachers, with one strong voice, through the Union, would then be more able to put forward our proposals, suggestions etc. to the relevant authorities. If we stand as one, all 26,000 of us in Sarawak, we would be a formidable force to reckon with. It will show solidarity and accord and, in the final analysis, teachers would benefit.
So if you are not a member yet there is no better time than now to make a commitment. In this context, I do believe the old adage still rings true, "the more, the merrier".
- Evelyn Tebari Along -
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