The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers was appalled at the statement which the Minister of Education made on a radio program on One Radio where he openly claimed that should a teacher not be available, the LSE in class should take over in his, or her, lieu.
“Mistoqsi dwar x’jiġri f’każ li l-għalliema jkunu ma jifilħux u kif l-istudenti se jirċievu l-lezzjoni, Owen Bonnici stqarr li dawk it-tfal li l-għalliema tagħhom tkun ma tiflaħx ikunu jistgħu isegwu l-lezzjoni tal-klassi ta’ ma ġenbhom, bis-superviżjoni tal-LSE.”
On this occasion the minister has shown how incomplete his knowledge about the roles and duties of an LSE is. He seems to be unaware that since they are not in possession of a warrant, should they accept to take over a class, anything that might happen to the children during the time the LSE is left in charge, becomes the full personal responsibility of the LSE.
Furthermore, the role and training of the LSE is very different from that of a teacher and should run in parallel with those of a teacher. The LSE is expected to attend first and foremost to the needs of the child, or children, in his, or her care.
There was no consultation with any of the educators implicated in this decision, and neither was there any consultation with the union about a change in job description to justify such a statement. The union considers this stand on behalf of the ministry as being unacceptable, and its expectation that LSEs will take on personal responsibility as the ministry deems fit just because it decided things should be so is unreasonable.
For this reason, the UPE is issuing the following directive for its members:
LSEs who are members of the UPE are not to accept to take over a classroom instead of a teacher, should a teacher be unavailable.
Should any of our members be, at any point in time, coerced into complying to a request to take over a classroom, they should promptly contact the union to intervene on their behalf. Should any of our members have any further queries they are not to hesitate to contact the union at email@example.com or by calling our offices on 2590 5400.