During a press conference today the MUT stated that Malta has a crisis in the teaching profession due to a variety of urgent issues which remain unresolved. These include lack of teachers in core areas, including English, Maths, Science, PE and Primary and lack of Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), which means that there is an increasing list of students with special needs not getting support they need. Interview lists for regular and supply teachers and LSAs are also getting exhausted, with Officials in state schools sector and other sectors frantically trying to replace teachers and LSAs on maternity / parental leave, in some instances with people even being encouraged to cut short their leave.
The MUT stated that there are many reasons that led to this shortage, chief among them being the mediocre working conditions with inflexible and rigid salary scale system which is proving non-competitive for professionals. Other reasons include the too many major reforms in too short a time with little breathing space often resulting in frequent changes of schools; the delay in promoting LSAs to their rightful grade; the inflexibility of a one size fits all system with teachers unable to take charge of the curriculum; the inflexibility of the Faculty of Education in providing evening PGCEs for graduates in spite of the demand; the new MTL at the University of Malta which is a recipe for disaster; and other issues at schools which discourage currently employed educators. These include lack of security, crowded schools in various areas and the general failure of the inclusion policy where in Malta inclusion means only the placing of pupils with difficulties under the same roof as mainstream students while expecting schools and LSAs, often still untrained, to perform a miracle.
During the press conference the Union also proposed a number of solutions that would counter this impending crisis. First of all the Government must understand that in a country where the only resource is the human resource, education must be top of the priority list and investment must be redirected to reach educators rather than armies of consultants and officials. The MUT also said that the Government must also embrace the chance, through the agreements currently being drafted, to offer good conditions to attract the best people to the profession and increase flexibility in employment rules for all educators. Other solutions proposed include that country must look beyond the Faculty of Education and provide parallel opportunities for persons who want to study pedagogy; an urgent rethinking of the inclusion policy; and a drastic reform of curriculum which should allow teachers to be flexible to the needs of the classes they teach rather having to follow a rigid curriculum.