By Andria Kades
Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris has come under renewed fire on Monday after saying it was well known that some schoolteachers have psychological problems.
His statements prompted fury on Monday from primary school teachers’ union Poed, who pointed the finger back at him to ask if during his time as a school inspector, he had ever done anything about such cases.
Hambiaouris controversially said last week during a TV show that “there are problematic teachers, we all know who they are, that’s why parents insist on having an evaluation system.
“We have teachers with psychological problems. Do you want me to put it that way? Yes, there are. We have teachers that are incompetent and can’t stand up in class.”
Poed and the minister have clashed since a 10-year-old boy died earlier this month after an accident while at school in Alethriko, Larnaca during physical education. The school notified his mother, who took him to the state hospital A&E department.
Doctors ordered an X-ray but found nothing wrong with him at the time and the boy was sent home. A few hours later, he was rushed back in critical condition.
A radiologist later found that the X-ray showed a skull fracture, according to police.
Following a CT scan in Larnaca, the boy was sent to Nicosia General for surgery after the scan showed a haematoma. He died on the operating table.
Two doctors have since been arrested and a disciplinary investigation of the physical education teacher is ongoing.
An article in Phileleftheros said Poed members had shown up at the school during the probe into the accident and had refused to leave and not contact with any of the teachers who were giving their statements.
When he was informed, the minister notified the police and asked them to arrest them, the paper said.
Poed leader Filios Fylactou said it was hugely offensive of the minister to suggest they had tried to interfere in an investigation over the death of a child.
“The entire teaching world is furious” and the union has asked for a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.
Poed is also prepared to report Hambiaouris to the international labour organisation and take the case to court though Fylactou did not wish to specify if the lawsuit would be limited to the newspaper.
In comments to Politis radio show on 107.6, Fylactou said Hambiaouris had a career at the education ministry as an inspector. “Ask him to give you information on how he handled cases (of teachers that apparently had psychological problems.).”
“Did he report any of them? If as he says there are so many of them, some were bound to have crossed his path.”
In a statement, the parents association for primary schools called on all parties to lower their tones but specified “Poed, nor any other organisation can take on the role of education minister and determine how the case should proceed.”
It said they were upset to see teachers write derogatory comments against parents on social media, that caused offence and weren’t constructive towards dialogue.