The Commissioner for Children yesterday seemed to have lost her bearings somewhat and criticised the UPE for standing up for its members. While we support her mission to protect children, we believe she should take a deep and serious look at the blunders the Ministry has been making over the past year. She has taken aim at the unions for issuing legitimate directives without being fully informed or aware of the complexities of the current situation.
Here is a list to help the Commissioner for Children to understand better what has been happening in the education sector and to fulfill her duty to protect the interests of school-children:
- A number of statements for students are being revoked. This means that children who have been entitled to 1 to 1 assistance are denied this support now because the statementing board has been revising applications on a yearly basis.
- Children who have to remain at Mater Dei hospital for a long period are provided with teachers. This is no longer the case, since the teachers have been transferred to other schools.
- Children who need the assistance and support of nurture teachers and LSEs have been denied this service due to the shortage of teachers.
- Children with hearing or visual impairment cannot access the curriculum because the Ministry has deployed dedicated teachers to different schools to cover the teacher shortage.
- The vast majority of primary school pupils has been denied access to PSCD lessons as a result of teachers transferred to different schools to cover the shortage of teachers.
The Commissioner should start tackling these issues with the Ministry rather than attacking the unions. It is the failure of the Ministry to properly address the crisis in education that has harmed, and continues to harm our children. Not the teaching unions, but an often confused and contradictory education ‘policy’ from the Ministry. When the UPE insists that no PSCD lessons should be given on stairs or a kitchen, whose interests are we looking after?
So, we ask — Who is responsible for the current teacher shortage? Who has failed to attract persons to take up a MTL and to make teaching an attractive profession? Who has let down thousands of our young citizens?
The Commissioner’s credibility would be enhanced in the eyes of the general public if an extensive review is undertaken to identify where the real blame lies for the failure to provide the services young persons are entitled to and to give her recommendations.
The UPE remains committed to safeguarding its members interests. No matter what the critics have to say, the union is duty bound to make sure that further injustices do not not happen to its members of the teaching profession.