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Fiji Time: 2:06 AM on Saturday 19 April

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Teachers need assistance, says union president

Saturday, April 09, 2011

THE Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) says parents' expectations of teachers in boarding schools have become too unrealistic in recent times.

He said while parents have every right to question the effectiveness of teachers, it was unfair of them to blame teachers as the weak link between the Ministry of Education and the students.

FTU president, Satya Nand Shandil, who is also the principal of Bucalevu Secondary School in Vanua Levu said parents failed to understand how difficult teaching in a boarding school could be.

In the classroom teachers change constantly, the most frequently seen of them being the form teachers who oversee the form at the beginning of each school day throughout the year before classes for their various subjects begin.

The average school day for a teacher begins at 5am. Teachers have to ensure students are up and out of their dormitories and completing their assigned duties. This is followed by breakfast after which students complete their house duties before they head to the classroom.

Besides their responsibilities as form teachers or house masters, these teachers also have to meet the requirements of the subjects they teach; preparing study material, teaching, marking, preparing exams, monitoring and help struggling students, maintaining discipline in their respective classes as well as maintaining class morale and keeping students focused and interested.

Mr Shandil and Tevita Koroi, president of the Fijian Teachers Association, believe the role of teachers must extend outside the classroom to include monitoring the everyday emotional, mental, and social welfare of students.

"Teachers are going to need assistance from all parties concerned if authorities are serious about eradicating the usage of corporal punishment by senior students in boarding schools," said Mr Shandil.

Mr Shandil said he noticed a drop in the standard of discipline in students after corporal punishment was abolished but stood by the ministry's ‘zero tolerance policy' towards it.