The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of The Workers predicted months ago that the Ministry of Education would consider and eventually seek to employ foreign teachers within the Educational Sector.
It is even more upsetting and regrettable to see that MUT has had talks with the Ministry on the issue, as reported by The Malta Independent on Sunday 8th September 2019. As usual, after noting the backlash on social media, the MUT seems to have made a cosmetic U-turn by declaring that it was against the system from the start (Malta Today, 8th September 2019). All educators should know by now that the level of confusion within MUT is incomprehensible and reprehensible. Various U-turns over the past weeks have shown educators that the MUT is working in tandem with the Ministry.
While some have worked on trashing the teaching profession, UPE officials had asked Hon Evarist Bartolo months ago if the Ministry of Education had any intention of ‘importing’ foreign teachers in order to overcome the current shortages. The Hon Minister gave the impression that in his view such a scenario might be inevitable, even after UPE officials presented several viable options to attract young prospective students to the profession.
Among these proposals, UPE suggested:
- a drastic increase in wages necessary to compete with the private sector;
- the introduction of various financial incentives to retain teachers from leaving the sector;
- higher stipends for students currently studying to become educators;
- the creation of better opportunities for other grades within the sector so that they may be able to advance and fill the current void;
- various family-friendly measures such as early retirement.
Unfortunately, it seems that the latest national trend is to resolve problems by seeking foreign workers rather than looking inwards and resolving persistent problems. Such a failure to address the matter head-on in the past has led to the loss of many teachers.
The Minister should be reminded that teachers do not only teach in a classroom setting but are rather the father and mother figures that understand the dynamics of the child’s social background. The caring and nurturing of cultural values is something that no foreign teacher can ever do.
UPE will keep on insisting that foreign teachers are not the only solution and that other alternatives would make more sense thus benefiting every stakeholder in the process.