A Business student at MCAST has sent an open letter to MCAST lecturers and Lovin Malta explaining what it is like trying to get work done as their lecturers follow their union’s directives.
As the Malta Union of Teacher’s directives continue, with their trade dispute over things like pay and work conditions not ending, this student needed to have his/her voice heard, and felt that an open letter was the best way to go.
“I really do sympathise with you, when it comes to the conditions you have to work in and also the way you might be treated. It must be difficult for you and I do consider the type of treatment you are getting as unfair -however this is now trickling down to your students. The type of unfair treatment you argue against is now being endured by your students,” said the student.
The student then listed the problems that they were having to endure, comparing MCAST with other schools.
“As a student who attended Junior College, lectures which started at 10am had lecturers ready to teach by 9.55am – 10.05 at the latest. However, at MCAST we are experiencing some of you, not all, turning up half an hour late only to dismiss us ten minutes early – which I believe is unacceptable as it hindering our progress in our modules. Modules which we are expected to produce assignments for,” the student said.
“Yes, the education is free, but as students we are still entitled to good quality education (just like all other tertiary students),” the student continued.
The student also touched upon the lecturers bringing their personal problems into the classroom, instead of leaving them at the door when they entered work.
“We would really appreciate it if you actually give us a lesson. I am not interested in your personal life or what happened to you yesterday, you already turned up 20 minutes late for the lecture and I would like to be given a lesson so I could actually do the work.”
Another problem affecting MCAST students was the taking of attendance, which, the student argued, was not being taken in a fair manner due to some teacher’s tardiness.
“When you come that late to class it would be much appreciated to not take attendance as most of the class would have left. The school policy is a waiting time of 15 minutes, and some students leave thinking you are sick, or not going to turn up, only to be marked absent and risk them not being able to sit for exams,” said the student.
“We would really appreciate it if you actually give us a lesson”
Unlike University, MCAST students have their stipend deducted when they miss lessons, so marking them as absent unfairly “not only runs the risk of us missing exams, but also causes deductions to the stipend we receive at the end of the month – which some students really need and depend on.”
“Again, I would like to emphasis that not all lecturers do this, but most of you do and you know who you are,” said the student. .
“Honestly, you just do not deserve the same pay”
The student then turns to the lecturers’ philosophy behind the strike and continued directives with a bit of a critical eye.
“Your main argument about this whole strike is the pay and how you want to be treated like University and Junior College lecturers. Fair enough. The only problem with your argument is that, honestly, you just do not deserve the same pay. Sitting down in a classroom just reading off a paper is not considered a lecture for university level students,” the student said.
“I can easily just stay home and do that myself. Teaching is when you transfer your knowledge of a subject to the student so that we understand better, not sitting down just reading off a few papers for half an hour and then telling us to “go home and research”. Yes, I will go home and research but researching and not knowing what I am reading and researching while actually having an understanding of the subject is completely different,” said the student”
“I chose MCAST in the belief that I would get the hands-on learning you promote, however this has not been my experience this year. The whole point of this strike, was for you, the lecturers, to be treated like University lecturers. If you succeed and do get what you want, does this mean us students will also be treated like university students? Or is it just to benefit you?,” the student asked.
One of the MUT’s directives, prohibiting teachers from speaking to students outside of class hours, has especially irked the student.
“Every teacher we speak to says that at the end of the day this will also benefit the students, but how? Due to longer holidays? What about the quality of the material we get to work with? I am more interested to see how this will benefit us, since as far as it stands, we have assignments that are due for January and we can not email you or ask any questions since you will not answer, I can not give any extra work because you will not correct it and when I need to meet you for my thesis, I just get a simple “Sorry it goes against the strike I can not meet you outside school hours”, so tell me how am I supposed to finish this thesis with no guidance? Will you read it when this strike is finally over and tell me to re-do it with a month left?”
“Tell me how am I supposed to finish this thesis with no guidance”
“Unfortunately, when this is all over at the end of the day the student still suffer, as we will still have to meet the deadlines of our assignments while you will all be laughing with your extra money. It seems for you that is what is important, the money and the longer holidays rather than the wellbeing of the student. I’d like you to reflect on why you became teachers and lecturers as I do not believe that the main reason could be money but rather a passion for teaching – a passion you are doing a disservice to.”
The student ended by thanking the lecturers who do their jobs well, regardless of the directives.
“I would like to end this letter thanking the few lecturers who try their hardest to work in such conditions and do a very good job,” said the student. “We appreciate it immensely, but the problem in that sentence is the word “few”. I hope that this might wake some of you up as while you can relax behind the curtain of your directives you have a classroom of students petrified as to what the new term will hold for them.”