Schools are no war zone, but we can't ignore problem, minister says

Schools are no war zone, but we can't ignore problem, minister says

'We should not turn schools into high-security prisons' - Bartolo

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo cautioned against outlandish statements over security at schools, but also warned that the problem of aggression should not be brushed off.

Speaking to Times of Malta after the teachers’ union published the results of a survey among 183 members, Mr Bartolo called for a realistic approach.

On Thursday, MUT said that nearly nine out of every 10 teachers who spoke to the union said they had experienced aggression at their school over the past two years.

“Even one case a day is worrying, however, I will not base my comments on MUT’s survey," the minister said on Friday.

“If I did that, I would say that the survey was not sound because if you want to understand what 9,000 educators go through on a scientific level, the methodology would be different.”

He noted he was not going to get lost over the methodology of the survey because even one case of aggression was unacceptable.We are not in some warzone where people are dying every day

Mr Bartolo insisted that the authorities would not protect anyone who verbally or physically attacked educators or school staff.

“We are against all aggression on anyone, however, aggression is even more shocking in an educational environment.”

The Education Ministry announced on Friday that educators can report aggression directly on the portal

Moreover, €280,000 were allocated in the last budget for security systems at schools. 

The minister does not believe there should be a security guard at every school, as security needs varied across different schools. These included CCTV systems or people who specifically helped out with security issues.

“Wherever there is a need, we should ensure that there is a security guard. However, we should not go from one extreme to another – neither allow a free-for-all nor turn schools into high-security prisons.”

The government was willing to take all necessary steps to strengthen security at schools, discuss such issues with MUT and shoulder responsibility.

“I think the most important thing is that we are realistic and see things as are - neither say that there is no problem at all, nor that we are in some war zone where people are dying every day.”

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