Get­ting schooled

The show­down be­tween the govern­ment and the Malta Union of Teach­ers re­minds us of the on­go­ing strug­gles faced by the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, brought to the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion par­tic­u­larly with the agree­ment reached last year. This is the sec­ond show­down in t

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Tim­o­thy Alden

Last year, teach­ers felt de­ceived by the con­di­tions of the sec­toral agree­ment worked out be­tween the govern­ment and the MUT. A strike was only nar­rowly averted on the sub­ject of salary in­creases. This week, the govern­ment again up­set teach­ers by threat­en­ing their war­rants. The need for con­tin­u­ous re­newal wor­ries po­lit­i­cally minded teach­ers be­cause of the po­ten­tial for abuse in our lit­tle clien­telis­tic coun­try where hav­ing an opin­ion is eas­ily pun­ished.

As var­i­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions toy with the well­be­ing of our teach­ers, let us con­sider the con­se­quences on fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We must re­mind our­selves that the ob­jec­tive of the pro­fes­sion is to raise the cit­i­zens of to­mor­row. If it suf­fers, we pay a hid­den cost.

On so many key is­sues such as cli­mate change, it is hoped that a bet­ter-in­formed and ed­u­cated youth will take bolder steps to save the planet once that gen­er­a­tion is in power. Yet, in Malta we are fail­ing our teach­ers as we are fail­ing our stu­dents. Ed­u­ca­tional re­form is it­self long over­due, as the sys­tem is not pro­duc­ing cit­i­zens so much as at­tempt­ing to pro­duce cogs that func­tion well in a ma­chine.

We re­quire civic ed­u­ca­tion so that stu­dents feel re­spon­si­ble for the well­be­ing of the na­tion and the planet to the point that they will ac­tively en­gage in its bet­ter­ment. We re­quire a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity be­ing fos­tered. That will not take place when cit­i­zens gen­er­ally do not even know how our vot­ing sys­tem works, or how our govern­ment is struc­tured and what it does or why. It must be­come easy for our cit­i­zens to par­tic­i­pate in our democ­racy.

Let us give ed­u­ca­tors and stu­dents what they need and set the ground­work for a Malta that has a health­ier democ­racy, en­vi­ron­ment and a bet­ter fu­ture.

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