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Our View: Are primary school teachers’ demands a joke?

STATE school teachers never cease to amaze. Both at primary and secondary schools they operate are under the illusion that they have the authority to run the education system. If anyone dares to challenge this authority or question their decrees, they threaten strike action. Such is their commitment to educating children they threaten to punish all of them in order to impose their diktats, which are invariably aimed at safeguarding their undemanding working life.

So if they are not demanding higher pay or benefits they are demanding the employment of even more teachers so teaching hours would be reduced. On Tuesday the primary teachers union POED threatened to strike when the new school year begins if the education ministry failed to take decisions that would solve “educational problems.” Reading what the union regards as “educational problems” is quite revealing. POED’s announcement said that it was a necessity “to support children that display learning difficulties in Greek and maths” and it also wanted the “prevention and management of delinquent behaviour, as early as pre-school education.”

Could his have been meant as anything other than a joke? What are primary teachers paid to do if not help children that display learning difficulties in Greek and maths? Has the union decided that its members should teach only children that learn easily, because the rest are hard work for pampered teachers? Surely teachers should consider it part of their main duties to help children that have difficulty learning; perhaps they could stay at school for an extra hour to help these children instead of making strike threats.

Even more absurd was the union’s demand for help in the “prevention and management of delinquent behaviour.” If teachers cannot manage the bad behaviour of six- and seven-year-olds and need special support from the ministry they are unfit to teach and should leave the profession. Someone incapable of controlling a classroom of nine-year-olds can only be described as inept and unsuitable for teaching.

This is not all. Primary teachers want teaching hours reduced for those who are on school management teams so they could devote more time “for efficient administration.” How much time is needed for administrative tasks in primary schools? And why can’t teachers stay an hour longer once a week to perform these tasks? Their working day is the shortest of all professions and they work the fewest days (equivalent of six months a year) so they could work an extra hour a week on administrative duties.

The objective of the union, apart from making the job even less demanding for their members, is to force the ministry to hire more primary teachers. It also had the nerve to claim that its demands were “for the benefit of the children.” The last thing on lazy teachers’ minds is the benefit of the children. They care so much for the children they cannot work an extra hour a week for their benefit.

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