Yesterday, the Union of Professional Educators was made aware of a grave injustice done in its regards. The Union of Professional Educators kept receiving reports from state school educators stating that access to the UPE website was being denied to them while connected to the WiFi network of their schools. After verifying the claim with numerous contacts of the union, it was established that the vast majority had been having issues accessing the UPE website. No similar issues, however, were being experienced when accessing the websites of other unions over the same WiFi networks.
The UPE did not rush into making assumptions in terms of this injustice and following an in-depth consultation with its IT provider, it was ultimately verified that there had been no underlying issues with the website of the union. At that point, the union was left with no other option but to believe that the IT Administrator of the ministry had probably been given instructions to block access to the union’s URL.
Talks on the issue were immediately initiated by the union with the Ministry of Education, and the Minister herself claimed that she was totally unaware of this block, and gave her word that she would personally look into the matter so that the situation was rectified as quickly as possible. The UPE is very grateful to the Minister Hon. Justyne Caruana who, true to her word, took the matter seriously and addressed the situation promptly. MEDE IT officials confirmed that the website had indeed been blocked and ensured that access was repristinated with immediate effect.
According to the ministry, the block effected on the UPE website may have been “unintentional”, however, after having discussed the incident with several IT experts, it was made clear that this denial of access had been made with malicious intent. The union is convinced that it had not been the Minister who had given the instruction, but is equally convinced that the instruction had come from someone internal to the ministry and who has authority over the IT Administrator’s actions.
In his recent ruling on discriminatory practices against the UPE by the ministry of Education, the Ombudsman himself had sternly and categorically expressed his condemnation of intentional discriminatory practices as a breach of human rights from which the ministry should desist. It seems that even the Ombudsman’s ruling might be falling onto deaf ears within a ministry with figures holding sufficient authority and with whom old habits die hard.
The UPE has now requested an urgent meeting with the Minister and OPM Officials to discuss not only this “unintentional” attack but also the developments on the Ombudsman’s report.
Should any of our members experience any recurring “unintentional” issues of denied access to the UPE website over a school network, they are cordially invited to contact the union on 21221252/6/8, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and report the issue without delay.