A plan to introduce a modern system evaluating teachers has been in the works for the past 35 years and does not seem to be coming any closer to reality after Poed union said on Wednesday they refuse to discuss it until matters of school health and safety are clarified.
In a row between the education ministry and unions which unfolded over investigations into the death of 10-year-old Stavros Giorgallis matters concerning improper behaviour from teachers, have come to light particularly after Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris himself publicly admitted there are incompetent teachers that have psychological problems .
According to Fylios Fylactou, leader of primary school teachers’ union Poed, introducing a “modern evaluation system” has been discussed for the past 35 years.
“In the past 10 years, there have been more efforts,” he told the Cyprus Mail, adding that it was obvious they yielded no results.
In December 2016, the education ministry published a proposal, currently on their website outlining how the evaluation system would be modernised.
It has since showed no signs of coming anywhere near to fruition though the education ministry was not immediately available to comment on why that is.
Hambiaouris has called for a meeting with all respective stakeholders on May 29 to bring the topic back to the table.
From the part of unions however, Fylactou said Poed refuses to broach the subject until the matter of schools’ health and safety is clarified.
He maintains there are schools with buildings in an unacceptable state without proper gates or fencing and this should be addressed first, before teacher evaluations are brought up.
“Until schools close on June 18 we will not discuss this,” he said, adding that when this matter was resolved they are willing to talk day and night.
At present, teachers are scored out of a mark of 40 and according to the 2016 proposal, more weight is given in favour towards teachers who have been in the job for longer.
The aim of the evaluation is catered to promotions and wage increases as opposed to improving the quality of their teaching.
More specifically, out of the four sections of the evaluation, only one is related to the quality of teaching.
The evaluation is carried out by one person –from the education ministry – and the teacher can object to the grade, requesting an improved mark.
The new proposal aimed to introduce three officials who would carry out the evaluation, making the procedure more transparent and improving weaknesses in the system.
Bridging the rift between Poed and the minister however seems to be becoming more distant after Fylactou posted on his social media a post accusing Hambiaouris of hounding teachers, the union and himself through his approach since the boy’s death.
Fylactou’s post, addressed to teachers said “even if a child during class asks to go to the bathroom…think twice and thrice about what you’ll do. If something happens, touch wood, while the child is going to the bathroom, this man will tear you apart.
“YOU (teacher, primary school teacher, etc) BE CAREFUL!!!! God protect you.”
At a meeting with members on Wednesday, the union said they would not move forward with any strikes as it would be an offence to the memory of the boy.