World Teachers’ Day 2017 celebrated Internationally on 5th October
The Malta Union of Teachers is commemorating World Teachers Day 2017, which is held annually on 5th October since 1994. This day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during last year’s edition. The 1966 Recommendation constitutes the main reference framework for addressing teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.
This year, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the 20th anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel. Teaching personnel at institutions of higher education are often overlooked in discussions concerning the status of teachers. Like teachers at pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels, teaching in higher education is a profession requiring expert knowledge, specialized skills, and pedagogical competence. This year’s theme is “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”.
Situation reduced to Musical Chairs
Locally, the MUT notes how the issue of shortage of educators, including teachers and LSAs in many schools and resource centres. The Union has been working incessantly on a considerable number of cases of members experiencing issues related to the shortage of educators, which is ultimately detrimental to the education service being offered. This shortage is leading to stretching of the workforce and is affecting essential services such as guidance and complementary teaching as educators being relieved of their respective duties, shifted around to fill vacancies of teachers and consequently creating new gaps in service. The shortage of LSAs is affecting particularly services in Resource Centres, as the reduction in personnel is leading to limitations in services provided to students. The Union has requested an urgent meeting with the Ministry.
MUT deplores changes in Institute for Education
The MUT also notes the deplorable changes made in the recent revisions to the legal notice (LN 243 of 2017) governing the Institute for Education, which is a teacher-training institution launched in 2015 (LN 140 of 2015) following discussions between the Government and entities such as the Malta Union of Teachers, the University of Malta, the Council for the Teaching Profession, MCAST, ITS and others as reflected in the Board which governed this institute. The Union finds it deplorable that this Board, and with it the institute’s independence, has been eliminated at the stroke of a pen and that the Ministry can now appoint directly his own people to take decisions about the various training programmes for educators without any consultation.
Commenting during a press conference, the MUT President Marco Bonnici stated that “the MUT feels that while on one day the Ministry is speaking about respect and improvement of conditions, on the following we have these types of regressing decisions which are the exact opposite of what is preached. It is high time that if the government really respects the profession as it says, it starts living up to the expectation. The Union has been waiting for feedback from the Ministry following the agreement proposals submitted by the Union to the Directorates. The Union adhered to all tight deadlines during negotiations in summer but no reaction is forthcoming from MEDE after three weeks from the last negotiations meeting. Unless proper feedback is received very soon the Union will convene its council to decide the way forward.
Calls for LSA I and LSA II long overdue
Among many other issues discussed during the press conference, the MUT finds it ridiculous that LSAs who finished the course to upgrade their qualification in order to advance from Supply to LSA 1 and from LSA 1 to LSA 2 are still awaiting the call to be issued after more than a year. The Union notes that this is not the way to reward studies and initiative and it is unacceptable that apart from such lack of action, the Union is also incredulously being blamed by the Government in correspondence to persons enquiring about it. The MUT expects immediate action on this matter.