The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Teachers

Monday, 19 February 2024, 10:22 Last update: about 3 months ago

During an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, the Director General of the Secretariat for Catholic Education Ian Mifsud explained that Church schools face difficulties in recruiting educators when vacancies arise due to a shortage of candidates in the sector.

He said that the issues faced by Church schools are reflective of challenges within the education sector in general. "This problem has been progressing gradually for at least the past 15 years," he added.

In terms of vacancies in Church schools, Mifsud said that by now Church schools have mostly filled the positions, but mentions that, for instance, there are teachers who are being compensated additionally to cover extra lessons beyond their contractual obligation. He mentioned that in one or two schools, they did not manage to recruit educators for specific subjects such as computing, and had to offer tuition for free to students after school hours.

The problem, he said, is larger in some subject areas than others, mentioning the sciences as one such example.

This is a situation that needs to be tackled now, not later.

As Malta’s population grows, so too will the number of students. If schools struggle to find candidates when there is a vacancy, that is problematic.

Currently, talks over a sectoral agreement between the government and the Malta Union of Teachers are ongoing. These talks absolutely must take this issue into consideration. A plan must be drafted to make the teaching sector more attractive for students to pursue a career in. Any talk in this regard will likely highlight the need for attractive pay packages, but not only.

Mifsud highlights a point which he thinks needs to be tackled.  “State, Church, independent school sectors and trade unions, particularly the Malta Union of Teachers,” Mifsud said, “need to work collectively to restore the dignity and respect that educators enjoyed in the past, as that is what may be lacking the most today.”

Teachers deserve all of our respect. It is not an easy career and involves a lot of behind the scenes work. From correcting homework, to preparing lesson plans, to trying to help those in class falling behind catch up... it can be exhausting, and requires dedication and passion for the job.  It is true that stories of a few bad apples spread far, but at the end of the day these are a miniscule fraction of those in the profession. The vast majority do their jobs diligently and well and we must all keep that in mind.

Mifsud also highlighted the issue with the recruitment of LSEs. He said that Church schools manage to recruit the numbers they need, but there is a large gap in time between a vacancy, the call for applications and the selection process. This, too, shows a shortage in candidates.

Educators are a cornerstone of society, helping mould the next generation. Their work, along with the education and support by children’s families of course, will shape the country’s future. If there are challenges with recruiting educators now and this is not tackled, the problem will only worsen in the future. The government, education institutions and unions need to put their heads together.

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