Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - The teaching profession is fast becoming a career of choice among fresh graduates in Malaysia, said Joint Teachers Unions Committee chairman Jemale Paiman.
He said there were 70,000 applications last year, although only 5,000 were needed.
"The number of applications indicates that a lot of youths were interested in becoming teachers," he said.
Jemale said contrary to general perception that teaching was unpopular because of low pay, fresh graduate teachers actually received good salaries.
"One with a degree gets a basic salary of roughly 2,300 ringgit (US$747) and can earn up to 2,500 ringgit ($812) with allowances," he pointed out.
"With the new time-based promotion, teachers can enjoy faster career advancement if they perform well.
"For example, teachers who excel at the entry-level DG41 grade can be promoted to DG44 in just three to five years instead of the current eight," added Jemale.
On top of that, Jemale said teachers sent to remote areas would also receive "hardship allowance".
However, only the top 30 per cent of graduates will be recruited as teachers beginning 2013 in an effort to enhance the quality of the profession.
This is in line with the fourth shift in the new Malaysia Education Blueprint that emphasises on transforming teaching into a prestigious and elite profession.
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng, however, said a good educational background should not be the only criterion when hiring new teachers.
"To be a teacher you must have the passion for teaching. This must go together with academic qualifications."