Educators’ council will have power to grant teaching warrants, new law proposes

Under new law, ministers will no longer have power to grant or withdraw teaching warrants, with the authority for this being vested in an educators’ council

The Bill on education professions is undergoing its second reading in Parliament
The Bill on education professions is undergoing its second reading in Parliament

Teachers’ warrants will be issued by an educators’ council, with the education minister’s power in this regard being removed, according to a proposed law.

The law in question, which seeks to regulate professions in the education sector and is currently being debated in Parliament, will give the power to grant and withdraw teachers’ warrants to an educators’ council made up of representatives of various teaching professions.

Evarist Bartolo, speaking during the second reading of the Bill in Parliament on Monday, said the council would include representatives of learning support assistants (LSAs) and kindergarten teachers, who were not recognised as educators under the previous law.

“This Bill if removing all power from the minister and giving it to the Council for Education Professionals,” the Education Minister said.

The council will be made up of different educators, four members of which will be appointed by the minister, and four elected by warranted teachers. There will also be two educators appointed by the union which currently enjoys the trust of the majority of educators - currently the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) - as well as an educator representing the kindergartens sector and one representing LSEs. University, MCAST and parents’ associations representatives could also be part of the council.

In a reaction, PN MP and education spokesman Clyde Puli said that, while the fact that the proposed law would recognise LSEs was positive, it still failed to address the problem of the shortage of teachers and that related to educators having a lower salary than the EU average.

Puli said that the only reason that the teachers shortage wasn’t being more widely felt was that many students were being crammed into one class.

Bartolo, however, disputed this, saying that the maximum number of student permitted in each class room was set in the agreement between the government and MUT.

He also said that, when one takes into consideration salaries, tax rates and Malta’s cost of living, Maltese teachers’ level of pay was similar to that of their Italian and French counterparts.

And while other countries, such as Luxembourg, had much higher teachers’ salaries than Malta, he said it had to be kept in mind that there were also countries, such as Bulgaria, were salaries were much lower, with the “average” ending up as a figure somewhere in between. 

The new educators’ law has been in the pipeline for over a year, with controversy erupting last year over various aspects of the Bill. In October 2018, the Education Ministry was forced to deny claims that a new set of laws governing Malta’s education system will see teachers’ permanent warrants revoked.

The MUT had also complained that they were not consulted before the Bill was drafted.

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