With a worrying shortage of teachers in Malta, the education ministry is now trying to plug the gap by enrolling university students as makeshift teachers.
The Education Department yesterday e-mailed every university student to advertise vacancies for teachers in biology, chemistry, accounts, integrated science, ICT and computer studies at government middle and secondary schools.
“Any interested students who would like to work part-time for a number of hours are kindly requested to send us an e-mail,” the circular reads.
The circular was exposed yesterday by Justin Schembri, a teacher who had contested the last election as a PN candidate.
“The education ministry now believes everyone is qualified to teach irrespective of whether they are trained in pedagogy or not,” Schembri told Lovin Malta. “This is an insult to our education system and to our children who will now be taught by students seeking an extra buck who have been roped in as the government’s response to our education crisis.”
Schembri accused education minister Evarist Bartolo of closing his eyes to the problems in education, noting the government’s recently-presented budget for 2018 lacks concrete measures to incentivise teachers
He said the government was being deceitful when it said, at the start of the scholastic year, that it will be employing 600 new teachers.
“Only a week ago, the education ministry was asking schools for feedback on how many teachers they were lacking,” he said. “This can be confirmed by the e-mail sent to university students, as well as by emails and phonecalls to church school teachers to work at government schools instead. This shortage of educators is denying Maltese students the right to choose their preferred optional subjects, is prompting retired teachers to return to work, and is piling on the pressure on school administrations to enlarge their primary school classrooms.”
Justin Schembri has called for higher salaries and better conditions for teachers
Schembri urged the government to embark on a national awareness campaign of the need for more educators, improve teachers’ salaries and conditions, drastically increase the stipends of student teachers to incentivise more people to enroll into the course, and start a consultation process with all stakeholders with the view of drafting a national plan for the teaching sector.
Earlier this week, Faculty of Education dean Sandro Caruana warned Malta’s teaching profession is in crisis with fewer students enrolling in teaching courses at the university.
“If the status quo remains, meaning we have raised standards for the teaching profession without improving the conditions of work, it would be a recipe for disaster,” he told the Times.