CRPD concerned at educators’ unions statements targeting work practices that impact disabled school children
The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) is concerned at the recent statements issued by the teachers’ and educators’ unions, which might adversely affect disabled schoolchildren.
“While educators’ health and working conditions should be safeguarded, this cannot be at the expense of the well-being and dignity of disabled children, some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability Oliver Scicluna.
“Our interest is to ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in any way, according to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with a Disability.”
Recent statements and directives issued by the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) and the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) have focused on Learning Support Educators (LSEs) and their duties in relation to disabled children.
The latest statement claimed that LSEs were getting badly injured at work after being made to lift children daily. It called for a higher number of LSEs that would be available to lift one child as well as a review of the current policy. It pointed out that some schools have the equipment to carry children but many mainstream schools do not.
LSEs support students in the classroom in a variety of ways, assisting teachers with the delivery of the national curriculum by breaking down the lesson in a way that children understand.
CRPD urges Government to take the necessary measures to safeguard the health of its educators and improve their working conditions. Not only should schools be accessible, but the necessary equipment, such as hoists and evacuation chairs, as well as appropriate training, should be available to assist LSEs in their duties. CRPD is always open for consultation and discussion.
However LSEs’ quest for better working conditions should not be at the expense of disabled children. “We very much hope that disabled children will not become collateral damage in the battle for membership between the teachers’ unions.”
CRPD is committed to rendering Maltese society an inclusive one, in a way that persons with disability reach their full potential in all aspects of life, enjoying a high quality of life thanks to equal opportunities.
In fulfilling this mission, CRPD works in order to eliminate any form of direct or indirect social discrimination against persons with disability and their families while providing them with the necessary assistance and support.