Updated | Government confirms that Maltese and Maths examinations will take place as planned

MAPSSS said that while it's important that teachers fight for their rights, this should be done within a context of not impacting on the rights of third parties  •  The Malta Union of Teachers claimed that the Ministry attempted to "buy off teachers to withdraw from the directive"

Heavy workload and shortage of teachers in Maths and Maltese have prompted the MUT to issue a directive that includes not going ahead with examination for Maths and Maltese at the end of the scholastic year
Heavy workload and shortage of teachers in Maths and Maltese have prompted the MUT to issue a directive that includes not going ahead with examination for Maths and Maltese at the end of the scholastic year

The Education Ministry has confirmed that the Maths and Maltese examinations will take place as planned at the end of the scholastic year after the Malta Union of Teachers issued a directive for teachers not to go ahead with them. This is in accordance with the exam timetables issued by the respective schools.

The union said that this directive reflected the fact that it had not reached an agreement with the government to alleviate the issue of teachers with heavy workloads and the general shortage of teachers.

The ministry confirmed that an agreement had not been reached with the MUT after it had proposed a quick fix solution in a meeting that was held between the two parties on Thursday afternoon.

While it did not describe the nature of the solution, the MUT said that during the meeting it held with the ministry, the same ministry proposed to offer €3,000 to those teachers with large workloads to withdraw from the directive and go ahead with examinations.

The MUT responded by saying that this proposal was insulting and degrading to the teaching profession and was not more than cheap bait that would cause further problems down the line.

Earlier the Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students (MAPSSS) sent an open letter to teachers, asking them to reconsider the position taken by the MUT, preventing students from sitting for their Maltese and Mathematics examinations.

The MUT said that it ordered this decision based on the fact that it was unable to reach an agreement with the Education Ministry over a shortage of teachers in these subjects.

"We understand that it's good for our children that they learn to fight for their rights, but this should also be done in the context of not leaving an impact on the rights of third parties," the letter read.

MAPSSS argued that examinations are the evaluation of the students' work over the course of a scholastic year and that by depraving them of this possibility, it also meant that the teachers were also denying themselves the recognition of their own work.

"We understand that you built a personal relationship with your students over the course of nine months and that these students look upon you as an example. Examinations are not just a reflection of the students' work during the year but also reflects the hard work that teachers do with so much dedication," the association said.

The parents urged the teachers to reconsider their industrial action while they recognised that a concrete solution needed to be found.

"We believe that solutions need to address the current situation on a permanent basis. The government is saying that it's doing all it can and perhaps this isn't enough. MAPSSS is appealing to the government to introduce a mechanism whereby it avoids having teachers with large workloads.

"We understand that you teachers have done all you can to prepare students for their next step in their education. As parents, we understand that sometimes you had to work in situations that were not ideal, including the lack of resources," the letter read.

MAPSSS said that the government's lack of action in terms of heavy workloads was severely impacting students as well as teachers.

Following the result of the meeting between MUT and the ministry, MAPSSS expressed its disappointment that an agreement was not reached and that no solution was found.

"MAPSSS asks [the ministry] officials to scrutinze well the exam papers that will be distributed to the students to ensure that the papers meet the required standard and cover the relevant syllabi. MAPSSS wants a guarantee from MEDE that there won’t be a repeat of the situation that ensued in the Half Yearly Exams."

MAPSSS referred to the Half Yearly examinations of this year where the same situation arose and the ministry employed unknown individuals to design and correct the papers resulting in what the MUT called a "fiasco": errors in the questions posed, a repeat of previous past papers, and erroneous corrections among other things.

Malta Union of Teachers: 'Ministry tried to pay off teachers to withdraw from directive'

Following the meeting the MUT held with teachers and Heads of Department of Maltese and mathematics, it said that the Ministry's solution would most likely cause divisions between teachers.

"The Ministry offered €3,000 to those teachers with large workloads to withdraw from the directive and go ahead with examinations. This will create a division among teachers and is nothing more than bait that solves nothing and creates new problems if it were to be accepted," the MUT said in a statement.

For this reason, the MUT decided and confirmed that the directives it issued will remain in place.

"The Ministry came up with a proposal that is severely degrading and insulting to teachers and their profession," the statement read. "Those teachers who have less than 25 lessons have other responsibilities to shoulder and this is a symptom of the acute problem in this sector that will eventually lead to not having enough teachers in classrooms."

It added that the Education Ministry's proposal to offer money to incentivise teachers into revoking their decision was an attack on trade unionism where the government was attempting to buy off teachers and creating divisions on the place of work.

"The professionalism of teachers is not bought. Moreover, the MUT is informed that the Ministry will attempt to design examination papers quickly itself. The Union does not have faith in this process," it concluded.