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Until about 6 months ago, many people have never heard of the word "millennium". Lately however, the word is on everyone's lips. The entrance of the new millennium was awaited with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation, compounded with the appearance of the mysterious 'bug' that accompanied it - the infamous Y2K.

So here we are - in the NEW MILLENNIUM (although some people argued that the new millennium would not start until 2001). What was your feeling as we made our grand entrance? Thankful that you've made it? Disappointed that everything seemed to be the same ("so what's all the fuss about")? Relieved that all's well, the threat of the Y2K notwithstanding? Whatever the case is, the new millennium (the year 2000) is here at last. It is welcomed with high hopes, much prayers and new resolutions. It is natural that we welcome it with hopes for health, success and happiness (in that order for most people). We resolve to make a clean break from the mistakes and blunders of the past year and try to do better this year.

In the case of teachers, this year is especially significant for us. Some turn of events have affected us directly. One is the appointment of a new Minister to head the Ministry of Education in the person of Y.B. Tan Sri Musa Muhamad, a former Vice Chancellor of USM, Penang. It must have been thought that he is THE right man for the job, as he is placed there on his own merit and not through any political party (as is normally the case). As such, Education staff throughout the country is eagerly awaiting his move as to what changes (if any) he'll make with regards to the existing policies in the Ministry. Being an academician, teachers place high hopes in him. Among the areas which are of special interests to the teachers are :-

*  training opportunities; 
*  different (and more effective) means of evaluating professional performance of teachers; 
*  better (more ideal) merit system to be used in the decision to approve or reject 
   teachers' applications for transfer;
*  more rewarding salary schemes.  It is also hoped that he will put up a good word to 
   review the present matrix system of the SSB.

The Minister had just assumed duty and it will be a while before his presence is felt. At any rate, the Education staff waits with optimism for better things to come. This is not to say that the past has necessarily seen much shortcomings but, in any organisation, there is always room for improvement.

Another current issue which is of interests to government servants (teachers included) is the suggestion by CUEPACS to extend the retiring age from 55 to 58. How do teachers feel? Opinions differ. Some think it is a good proposal. Why 'waste' talents and skills which are still perfectly serviceable (by retiring) at 55? On the other hand, there are those who are counting the days when they reach 55 to call it quits. Although they do enjoy the work, they figure out that they need time to savour the fruits of their labour over the years, to sit back and relax, to turn their attention to their own interests. By then, presumably the children are self-reliant (financially) so there is no longer a pressing need to earn, earn, earn. Anyway, there is no decision yet as to whether it will be 55, 58 (or 62) but, as for now, work is very much at hand. That is the challenge of the new millennium, so teachers . Onward to the classrooms .

- Evelyn Tebari Along -

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Ong Kheng Syn BBS
Editor: Ng Boon Kee BBS
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