The Saint Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) has condemned the online abuse of teachers on Monday when schools officially reopened virtually in Saint Lucia.
“The SLTU condemns those acts and we go further to say that teachers should not be subjected to such levels of abuse when undertaking their duties in terms of instruction of students,” union President, Don Howell, stated on Tuesday.
In one video that went viral, someone hurls expletives at a teacher during a virtual session as others urge him to have respect, while in another incident it is reported that during an online assembly at a secondary school in Castries, someone made ‘disgusting remarks’ of a sexually explicit nature to a female teacher.
In addition, officials confirmed that individuals who were not part of the school system managed to infiltrate virtual learning platforms and engage in disruptive behaviour.
The SLTU President explained that what occurred on Monday is a manifestation of a wider societal issue.
“Issues that we faced in the physical space are now manifesting themselves online,” Howell told reporters, as he recalled that the SLTU for some time now has been highlighting the need for support for teachers in the classroom and psycho-social support for the entire school community.
Howell gave the assurance that the SLTU will engage the Ministry of Education on the matter because the teacher abuse online that occurred on Monday is a matter of great concern to the union.
“We have to engage in a dialogue with the Ministry of Education to ensure that the Ministry of Education puts strategies in place to deal with those issues as they come up, as we continue to navigate the virtual space – to make the work environment for teachers more conducive, even in a virtual environment,” he declared.
“The dialogue will continue. Certainly, the measures put in place by the Ministry of Education – while we understand it may be to control or to minimise those activities, it must not be punitive in nature for the teacher,” he told reporters.
The SLTU President commended teachers for the way they have conducted themselves during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of which called for teachers to be resilient, creative and going beyond the call of duty.
He expressed the view that teachers have risen to the challenge to ensure that Saint Lucia’s education system remains afloat.