[WATCH] Updated | Heightened school security not the way forward, Education minister says

A MUT survey found that 87% of teachers have experienced aggressive behaviour, but Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has warned against turning schools into 'high-security prisons'



Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said turning schools into high-security prisons was not an option
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said turning schools into high-security prisons was not an option

Updated at 4:45pm with PN reaction

Schools cannot run the risk of turning into high-security prisons Minister for Education Evarist Bartolo warned, in response to MUT's call for security officers to be stationed at all Maltese schools.

"There cannot be a situation where children feel like they can do whatever they want without ramifications, but neither can there be a situation, as has happened abroad where children walk into a school and feel like they are in a high-security prison."

On Thursday MUT revealed that 87% of teachers had in the last two years suffered aggressive behaviour. The survey found that 23% of respondents had been victims of aggressive behaviour on a daily basis, while another 23% claimed a weekly frequency of aggressive behaviour was being experienced.

READ ALSO: Majority of teachers experienced aggression in schools in the past two years, MUT survey finds

Bartolo said he understands the demanding job educators face on a daily basis. "Educators have to deal with large classes, children who come from different cultures and situations. So I understand that it is not easy to be an educator today, and even worse is then when they are not treated well or face aggression from pupils."   

He said that the ministry took every claim seriously, adding that it is a priority for the government to safeguard educators. "Every time a case has been reported, the ministry has acted quickly to defuse the situation, with the interest of protecting the educator always a top priority. It is what has always happened in these situations and what will continue to happen," he said.     

Separately on Friday, the government said that it encouraged teachers to report any aggression or inappropriate behaviour, with every report being followed up by the Directorate for Educational Services. 

PN react with expression of support

The Nationalist Party has expressed its support of teachers in a press statement and have asked for effective action from government to tackle the results revealed by the MUT survey.

"Almost 90% of teachers said that they experienced aggression in the past two years and a disquieting proportion of teachers experience violence at school every day," Clyde Puli, PN secretary general and education spokesperson for the opposition said.

Puli added that Minister Bartolo's reaction denotes a labour administration that couldn't care less about teachers and students.

"It's as if the minister is awaiting for what he himself called a 'war zone' before action is to be taken," he added.

Puli concluded by saying that the government is not looking at long-term solutions to attract teachers to the occupation by making sure that the work environment is secure.

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