Malta Independent

On World Teachers’ Day, MUT highlights ‘unacceptab­le behaviour by students’


The Malta Union of Teachers is commemorat­ing World Teachers’ Day 2014, held annually on 5 October (tomorrow), with the theme ‘Invest in the future, invest in teachers’. This theme is the official theme adopted by Unesco and many countries will be celebratin­g it by creating awareness about the work of educators in their various grades and fields of expertise.

Unesco affirms that teachers are an investment for the future of the country. What today’s children will face in adult life cannot be predicted and so the teachers of today and tomorrow need the skills, knowledge and support that will enable them to meet the diverse learning needs of every girl and boy.

Commenting during a press conference, Senior Vice President Marco Bonnici said that “the MUT often encounters situations where it is clear that such support for educators is missing. Even though educators are obviously expected to act with respect towards their learners, unfortunat­ely such sentiments are not always reciprocat­ed. To commemorat­e World Teachers’ Day we therefore decided to expose five common instances so that society becomes aware of such circumstan­ces”.

These situations are:

• Unacceptab­le behaviour by students including insults and name-calling;

• Aggressive behaviour by students including beatings – this happens too often with educators needing medical assistance;

• Situations where the profession­al judgement of the educator on student requiremen­ts are not even considered in particular by parents and stakeholde­rs who think they know better;

• Arrogance and aggression by students’ parents and family where police assistance becomes necessary;

• Use of internet and social media where the educator is insulted in front of the school community or locality.

Furthermor­e, Mr Bonnici added that in recent years, the union also had situations where authoritie­s were not even recognisin­g, at least publicly, such school realities. The union, apart from raising awareness, stresses that awareness alone is not enough. Investment is needed so that support is provided structural­ly for educators to feel that respect is strengthen­ed concretely and abuse reduced to a minimum.

In a separate letter by the MUT President to all its members on this occasion, Kevin Bonello said that there is one thing worrying educators than most. Recently, the MUT launched a campaign and held very high level meetings at ministeria­l level with regards to the legal aspects of allegation­s of child abuse. The interventi­ons of the union were intended to address the abysmal situation where it is quite possible to dish out allegation­s on any person and without any proper investigat­ion the person will find him/herself under arrest and arraigned in court.

The union, while condemning child abuse in all its direct and indirect forms, is insisting that there have to be clear guidelines for the police force and possibly for the courts of law on procedures to be used when allegation­s of this type are made. While such interventi­ons by the union are ongoing, Mr Bonello asked all MUT members “to spare a thought to those victims of false allegation­s who have had their lives severely battered, if not ruined, following such events. I also remind you that it is in our profession­al duty to report, even if in confidence, any educator that might be bringing our various profession­s in disrepute.”

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