When teach­ers aren’t in­ter­ested in teach­ing

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - OPINION -

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.


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