World Teachers Day: Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies

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World Teachers Day 2015: Empowering teachers, building sustainable societiesThe Malta Union of Teachers is commemorating World Teachers Day 2015, held annually on the 5th of October, with the theme this year of “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies.” This is the official theme adopted by UNESCO and Education International and many countries will be celebrating it in diverse ways.

Today Education International, with its affiliates worldwide including the Malta Union of Teachers, is highlighting the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, and the crucial role teachers will play in ensuring it is implemented.

“Every year on World Teachers Day, we celebrate educators and the central role they play in providing children everywhere with a quality education,” says a Joint Message on the occasion of the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) signed by UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Education International (EI).

Apart from education goals and targets for quality teachers, the MUT said that it agrees with the international organisations that teachers should be empowered through the provision of decent working conditions, well-resourced, safe and healthy working environments, trust, professional autonomy, and academic freedom.

The Union also agreed that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals but are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

Commenting during a press conference, the MUT President Kevin Bonello stated that, while it is good that society celebrates days like this, it should not just be about a once-a-year symbolic gesture but a true commitment to look into issues and problems educators encounter each day – issues that are preventing true empowerment of teachers that can really affect the performance and ultimate result of the education of tomorrow’s citizens.

“Locally we can mention situations whereby schools are being populated with children who can speak neither Maltese not English. It is unacceptable to us that parents can refuse such programmes and consequently create a multitude of issues in their children’s class. Moreover there needs to be proper evaluation of the current programme being implemented to ensure that children who participate in it will then be able to communicate properly in either English or Maltese.”

The Union also mentioned a number of other issues currently being faced by educators, such as the fact that peripatetic teachers are being called to perform at an activity outside the classroom. “Children in State Primary Schools in this case are losing out on such already infrequent lessons.”

The Union also referred to the recently opened Guze Ellul Mercer School, which it stated is “another case of badly planned project without any foresight.” The Union added that it has been informed that this service, planned for 240 students, has had an uptake of just 40 students and as a result “a number of educators will now be made redundant at the start of the scholastic year.”

The Union said that another “serious situation” is the one at Church Schools, the MUT said that it has written to the Archbishop with what it describes as “a number of allegations related to recruitment and termination.” To date, it said, apart from a meeting in which the Union was assured that an investigation would be carried out, “nothing has as yet materialised.”

The Union also mentioned MCAST, where the Union said, “industrial relations are currently strained because of a variety of issues.”

The MUT concluded that “MCAST needs to understand that the MUT is a social partner and is obliged to tackle issues and complaints of the educators it is representing.”

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