Currently, the teaching profession is enduring crisis since less students seem to be interested in becoming educators, minimizing the opportunity for new ideas, resources, energy and prospects. This is a worrying issue for the Maltese government, locals and teachers alike, as the future of Maltese education doesn’t look too promising. There is the fear that if nothing is done, there will come a time where qualified teachers are needed, and whoosh, they are all gone; we wouldn’t be able to find any in the futuristic society.
As of last year, the B.Ed and PGCE course at the University of Malta has been modified, adding another year to the 4 year course to finish off with a Master’s in Teaching and Learning. Could this extra year, and the minimal possibilities of advancement in this profession be the cause to this drop in education graduates? Or maybe is it the never-ending syllabus that needs to be narrowed down to fit in a year (minus Christmas, Easter, Carnival breaks), and the rigid system that is making this career less appealing to young students?
Well, what we know for sure is that this lack of teachers is adding stress on the current teachers who are given more responsibilities without receiving anything back. Our teachers are not feeling esteemed, and despite the fact that this controversy has long been going back and forth, now teachers are fed up, feeling ‘abused’ and upset with the way things are going. Many felt offended when University students were called to temporary fill in teaching positions, sending the message that now being fully knowledgeable about pedagogy and fully qualified is no longer as important, yet again undermining the teaching profession and the hard work teachers endured to have a place in our schools.
They are united to voice their frustration in being under paid, thinking of a strike for a day (8th November) with the aim of improving their working conditions. This surely brings with it an amalgamation of opinions. However, it seems that a lot of local people agree on the fact that teachers are under paid and undermined, supporting this claim by uploading Facebook profile pictures with the words #Respect for Teachers. Finally, it seems that an agreement has been reached and teachers will be given the 20% rise over the next 5 years, calling the strike off. Surely this doesn’t mean that the situation is well-sorted and not critical anymore.
Finally, I would like to add that I feel close to this subject as I have studied education myself just a while ago (just about three years ago), and I have graduated as an English and Geography teacher myself. Truthfully, it is not an easy job requiring patience, time, and vocation. I happen to be a teacher who didn’t continue this profession as I immediately felt the stress and tension in our school environment. I also didn’t quite agree with some educational matters. Maybe the way teaching is portrayed, and the stress imposed on students studying education to maintain a high standard, is backfiring, and discouraging current students from taking up this career.