Yet again, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, has received several complaints from educators who are members of the union, claiming that laptops have not yet been provided to everyone. Given that we are now in March, and that most of the academic year is over, the union found it somewhat disturbing that no action has been taken to date to rectify the situation and provide teachers with the much needed technology that today’s educational system deems not only necessary but also considers it a vital component in the delivery of effective teaching methods which these educators are being asked to live up to.
The union, obviously did not let such complaints fall onto deaf ears, and took immediate action to investigate this delay. The ministry was prompt to reply that there was a valid reason for this persistent delay, and elaborated all the details. Basically, and much to our surprise, the COVID-19 was at the foundation of this problem, as deliveries were not made, or were severely delayed, by the potential risks of importing packaging from a red zone. The Education Department is thus a victim of circumstances due to a virus which we obviously want to avoid having on our shores, as much as possible. So, this lack of provision can be seen, or so we are expected to believe, that the ministry has its hands tied on this matter.
What somehow leaves us baffled is that the first COVID-19 patient was discovered in December, which means that between September (which marks the beginning of the academic year) and December this virus was unknown. Our first reports of laptops not having been given to teachers, date back to September, at which point we were informed and reassured that the laptops were on the way. So, unless the laptops were loaded on the back of some befuddled China man swimming backstroke from China to Malta to avoid expenses on delivery, this delay seems hardly likely or even credible.
Also, one can only but wonder why the ministry did not preemptively stock up on these laptops in the summer months, given that the number of teachers within the department is not one that is pulled out of a blind bag at random, and the discrepancy in numbers between the number of teachers and the resources available is not exactly minor.
Perhaps the ministry is also unaware of the many outlets dotting the island displaying COVID-19-Free devices which are readily available for purchase. We are more than sure that most educators, in a display of good will, will be more than willing to assist the department in the use of the Yellow Pages. Obviously, a hard copy of the directory will need to be provided, given that the lack of laptops precludes them from accessing the online version.