EDITORIAL | Sunday, 22 July 2007

Education, education, education

It appears somewhat ironic that in the same week that government embarks on far-reaching educational reform plans, in full agreement with the Malta Union of teachers, the Church censors a schoolteacher for his sexual orientation.
We have little doubt that the parents of children at Church schools must have exerted substantial pressure on the Church. The parents’ attitude is not excusable, far less is the ill-advised approach of the church. Action in such matters should not be taken just out of knowledge of the particular sexual orientation of a teacher but only as a result of proven misbehaviour of the teacher. In this particular case it would appear the Church authorities have had their action triggered by parents without any particular misdemeanour taking place. This action has been limited to Church schools.
The action taken by the Church authorities is wrong on a number of counts. Firstly and most importantly it breaches the Employment and Industrial Relations Act and also the spirit of our Constitution, which specifically states that there is to be no discrimination as a result of sexual orientation. More importantly, it breaches the European Convention of Human Rights, which is the standard setter as regards the protection of human dignity and rights.
The Malta Union of Teachers was perfectly in order when complaining about the line of action taken by the Church. It smacks of a gross injustice and an unwillingness to put into practise the values of solidarity and respect for the human being, which are the hallmark of the Church’s beliefs. The Church quite rightly exalts the value of the human person; regrettably this time it has devalued its own Christian principles.
This incident raises a number of important questions. Should there be different tenets and approaches between the Church schools, the private independent schools and state schools. We believe not: the standards and tenets of one should be reflected throughout. All should reflect and respect teachers, whatever their sexual orientation.
In matters of education we firmly believe that there should be general consensus on the kind of education received by our children. Government is right in making education a prime focus and the recent reform augurs well for the progression of education in our country.
The cardinal message to all young people should be that only a good education could ensure good employment. The more educated one is, the less strenuous one’s employment is likely to be. Education is the key to a better quality of life. The state must also prepare people for the skills the country, today and in its immediate future, is likely to require. This may sound extremely utilitarian but the stark reality is that only the countries with a prepared and skilled working force are attracting foreign value-added investment, which triggers off growth in the economy.
The message permeating to our youths that life is just “now” are unfortunately creating a consumerist and a no-limits frame of mind which is not conducive to the building up of a sound society. For much of this attitude, both politicians and the business class have much explaining to do.
A sounder educational system requires strengthening enforcement against truancy, inculcating a sense of discipline both at home and at school, using public state television to inculcate good values and protecting the average school teacher from verbal abuse by children. A tall order but failure to achieve higher educational standards will leave our country lagging behind. Our customer service leaves a lot to be desired: the general lack of courtesy of bus drivers and taxi drivers is legion. All too often these are our ambassadors on the ground and the first encounter with the tourists visiting our shores. Channelling further well-administered funds into education is the best long-term investment our country can make today tomorrow and in the very long term.

Quote of the week

“I had made it clear when I was reappointed that I would accept no interference from MEPA or outside of it.”
– MEPA audit officer Joe Falzon spells out his stance in the ensuing row over the appointment of Carmel Cacopardo, 18 July, 2007

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NEWS | Sunday, 22 July 2007

Government launches Pre-Budget document

ADT prohibits public buses from taking foreign students

History revisited for a government that has forgotten its past

Reduced commission sends travel agents to court

Curia asks MUT for names of schools in gay teachers row

Diving into the deep blue sea

‘Don’t add insult to injury’, Martin Debono tells Joe Saliba

Unhappy tourists lament burgeoning language students

Only 6% of foreign workers hail from Africa

Stability ranking highlights Malta’s migration challenge

Two floors over Knights’ Barracks proposed for Dock 1

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