It looks like the most grueling campaign of all time. Months have passed by since Franklin Barbara first began sponsoring his badly-photoshopped campaign images all over our Facebook newsfeeds. But his expensive campaign – that has already outlived those of the Maltese and U.K. general elections – seems to mean the world to this revolutionary teacher.
Starting his career as a sociology and PSD teacher, Barbara says teaching has always been in his family so seeing the way teachers are treated hurts. Now, he’s turned to social media, armed with images stitched together from stock photography, to tackle the “systematic exploitation” of teachers.
The educational memes (of sorts) appearing on your timeline were a result of Barbara’s belief in the potential of Facebook to “effectively reach many people, and focus heavily on having a discussion”. Wish granted; over the past few months he’s cemented a space in the Malta’s online hall of fame.
Despite our curiosity to find out the exact cost of the elaborate campaign (particularly due to it’s accidental targeting of the whole island, as opposed to eligible voters), Barabara’s lips are sealed on the issue and he wouldn’t reveal his spending. Still, he underlined the fact that the entire thing was funded from his own personal savings.
But what would he change if his Facebook campaign yielded fruit? If the posters and speeches took him all the way to the top (of the MUT), the first priority will be simple; taking on “a system that isn’t there for the teachers”. As more and more young people opt out of choosing teaching as a career path, Barbara hopes to lobby a way to lure them back in, potentially through clutch use of the social media so many young people are on.
Currently, the election itself is in full swing, but the process is almost as drawn out as the actual campaign. Paying members of the MUT have until the 22nd July to return their ballot via the self-addressed envelope they’ve all received at home.
Despite what you may be seeing on Facebook, Franklin Barbara is not the only person in the running. Marco Bonnici has also thrown his hat in the ring to become the president of the 9,000-strong union. So as the ballots trickle in, those eagerly awaiting the result of one of Malta’s most prominent social media campaigns shouldn’t hold their breath, as the winner will only be revealed at the end of this month.