The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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Vacancy advert for new headmaster at St Albert College creates further tension among teachers

Semira Abbas Shalan Wednesday, 10 August 2022, 12:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

A vacancy advert posted on Facebook calling for new headmasters for St Albert the Great College has created further tension among teachers at the school, some of whom have resorted to expressing their disapproval through comments on social media.

The advert was posted by the College’s rector Fr Aaron Zahra on his Facebook profile on Wednesday, calling for two vacancies for head of early and primary school, as well as head of the middle and secondary school.

Zahra as well as the school board have received scrutiny over the decision to fire previous headmaster of the school, Mario Mallia on the grounds of insubordination.

The advert seeks “creative persons with a caring disposition” and states that “Because we are a Catholic Church School, we welcome everyone, we care, we seek fulfilment, we read and change the world.”

However it has caused consternation amongst people opposed to the recent sacking of Mallia, leading to an outpour of disapproval and condemnation from teachers at the school, parents, students, as well as the Malta Union of Teachers.

The move was not appreciated particularly by educators at the school, one of whom commented a disparaging remark towards the rector – which was later removed – and also accused him of being insensitive towards staff members, parents and students, and of “rubbing salt on the wound” after removing Mallia.

After the comment was posted, Zahra proceeded to communicate with the MUT, asking it to instruct its member to pull down the remark, which he described as “disparaging, provocative, and which breaches the law”, otherwise he would take action with the police.

The MUT however published the communication and also published its reply, where it stated that Zahra had resorted to threats in the face of opposition and accused him of being intolerant to dissent.

“We can assure you that the union and our members will not be intimidated by your actions,” the MUT told Zahra.

“Your leadership at the college is being characterized by axing of initiatives and individuals, and whenever this is not deemed possible, you are resorting to threats through legal letters and communications like the subjoined. You do not accept any dissent whatsoever and you are expecting everyone to bow at your wishes. Were you expecting to be applauded for issuing the calls for heads after sacking Mr Mario Mallia? Is this the leadership you want for the college, based on threats rather than dialogue, based on axing rather than embracing individuals, based on dismissal rather than recognizing and building upon ideas of others. This leadership style will not stand anywhere, let alone at the college,” the union further wrote.

“The MUT will continue to support members at the college come what may, and is renewing the mistrust in your rectorship and in the pseudo board which is supposedly backing your actions,” it said.

On his part, Zahra’s office sent out a press statement condemning the MUT’s decision to publish the communication between the rector and MUT president Marco Bonnici.

The statement read that the MUT seems to be defending the derogatory speech by the educators. It said that the rector has been subject to hate speech in recent days, despite having always welcomed constructive criticism from members of the staff.

“Meanwhile, the rector remains open to dialogue with the teachers of the College to further explain the way forward in the interest of the students,” the statement read.

Earlier this week, the MUT took Mario Mallia's sacking to court, arguing that he had been unfairly dismissed from his post and calling on the Industrial Tribunal to grant him compensation.

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