When teachers aren’t interested in teaching
The absurdity of trade union bullying reached its peak this week as state school teachers were offended that their employer (the Minister of Education) would table a matter about education reform for Cabinet discussion without consulting them first. To show who’s the real boss, they threw a tantrum, declared the minister as persona non grata, threatening an all-out strike in September (when schools open), just to cause more chaos.
This deterioration in their working relationship and the strong-arm tactics is reminiscent of what happened at the former Cyprus Airways, that for decades had been the victim of political bickering and trade union haggling. As a result, Cyprus no longer has a national carrier. The company was decimated thanks to the selfish antics of those concerned about filling their own pockets. The Flying Moufflon would have prevailed and had it not undermined its sister low-cost operator, Eurocypria, both could have prospered in different segments of the highly competitive aviation industry.
But it is exactly that tolerance by officials giving in to the whims, or blackmail, of union chiefs allowed to call the shots, at the cost of improving standards in education. The fact that Cyprus consistently falls behind in benchmark metrics is not something that concerns teachers, who blame everything their own incompetence) on everyone else.
They should instead listen to the concerns of parents, who a month ago spoke out against inadequate teachers, sexual harassment in schools and unjustified promotions. There is also the issue of teacher secondment to other government or union duties without having to do any teaching work. In response, trade union officials have resorted to setting conditions prior to any reform negotiations with the minister. As a result, the haphazard appointment of teachers without merit continues, proper evaluation of teachers is non-existent, and those who do an excellent job carry the heavy burden of educating the next generation.
It seems that the administration’s tactic of hiring a further 159 new teachers to appease union concerns did not pay off, as the teachers want to have the final say in who gets a job, where and on what terms.
No wonder that the private education sector is booming, as parents sacrifice their savings in order to give their children a proper education in order to someday get accepted by a leading university abroad.
If state sector teachers can’t or won’t do their job, they should go home, and the education system should be placed in the hands of those who are willing and able to improve standards.